Adding a tenant

19 Replies

I have a tenant who has been an issue from the 2nd week he moved in.  Many of the problems cannot be resolved due to my lease.  I'm a new landlord and have learned a lot for the next time!  However, in the meantime, my question is - if my tenant has a guest past 2 weeks, can I request to add that "guest" to the lease for at least a month-to-month basis while they stay there?  This is now the 3rd "guest" who is staying for well over a visitation period.  Based on his lying history, I'm assuming this newest 'guest' will be here until the end of his lease on September 30th, despite him saying it will be 2-6 weeks.  Unfortunately, I don't have a visitor policy in my lease (again, I've learned a lot from my 'new landlord ignorance') but I want to protect myself.  This is now the 2nd person I would be adding to the lease as he has already had a 'guest' that had been there for 3 months and I finally demanded she sign a lease and fill out an application.  With it being now a 3rd person living there, when I originally signed a lease for just one person, I would like to raise the rent as well for the added wear-and-tear.  Has anyone experienced this, and how did you handle it?  I appreciate any advice.  Thank you!

@Danielle Moser , as you noted, the terms of the lease/rental agreement are key. We prefer month-to-month rental agreements so we can efficiently address issues as they arise. 

At some point a guest can become an unauthorized occupant. Unauthorized occupants can easily establish tenancy with or without a written agreement in place. You need to know who is residing at your property and for what period of time.

You are allowing this behavior by not establishing a clear position in the beginning and not addressing it in a timely manner with the original tenant. I would make an appointment to meet with the tenant of record, explain your concerns and your goals. Everything is negotiable. See how cooperative your tenant is. If they are not very cooperative, bear with it until September and don't renew the lease. Either way, keep an eye on the property for lease violations and remind your tenant that he is responsible to make sure his guests follow the property rules.

@Marcia Maynard, thank you for the advice!  Next time around my lease will be much more detailed.  I think after the normal 2-3 week visitation (or I at least view that as "normal") the best idea is what you suggested - approach him and request an application and to add her as a month-to-month tenant.  I only own 1 duplex and I live on the other side, so I am able to keep a very close eye.  He was not very happy about adding the first "guest" to the lease, so I don't see him being too cooperative with this one either.  

@Marcia Maynard great advice. I have been looking into Lease Options heavily and I will definitely make sure I add this to my notes.

Congrats on becoming a landlord!

Definitely add the wording into your lease for future tenants, but even with the wording, this would be a difficult thing to enforce. What would you do anyway? Evict over it? Then you'd have to compile all kinds of evidence that the person actually lives there and that's tough. Pictures of extra beds? They could be guest beds! Mail with their name on it? Why are you checking the tenants' mail?!

Is the tenant paying rent on time? If not, that's your best avenue for getting rid of him (and everyone else in there). File for rent court/eviction/whatever your area's first step is the very first day it's possible. Include late fee charges. Most of all, know your local landlord/tenant laws!

How else has he been a pain since the second week?

Do an inspection as often as possible to ensure the unit is not being destroyed. You'll be a thorn in their side coming to visit so much lol. 

305-537-6252
Originally posted by @Danielle Moser :

@Marcia Maynard, thank you for the advice!  Next time around my lease will be much more detailed.  I think after the normal 2-3 week visitation (or I at least view that as "normal") the best idea is what you suggested - approach him and request an application and to add her as a month-to-month tenant.  I only own 1 duplex and I live on the other side, so I am able to keep a very close eye.  He was not very happy about adding the first "guest" to the lease, so I don't see him being too cooperative with this one either.  

Living in the other unit of the duplex certainly adds more urgency to your situation! Here is a sample from our month-to-month rental agreement... borrow what you wish! Take a listen to BP podcast #83 where I share some of our landlording strategies. Good luck!

"GUESTS.  Landlord will allow Tenant to host guests on the premises and Tenant agrees to accept responsibility to ensure guests do not violate any of the terms of the rental agreement. Tenant agrees to obtain prior written consent from Landlord for any guest staying more than fourteen (14) days in any 12 month period.  Landlord may at any time ask guests to leave the premises for violation of any of the terms of the rental agreement.  If a guest stays for more than 30 days, Landlord will require guest to either leave immediately or, upon approval of Tenant and Landlord, enter into a written agreement for further occupancy or tenancy.  If a guest refuses to leave after being asked to do so, Landlord may give legal notice to terminate the tenancy, resulting in the removal of both Tenant and guest."

@MarciaMaynard, thank you!  That language would work perfectly.  Yes, living next door obviously makes me a little more sensitive because it is my home.  He has always told me about the visitors, I think only because I would've noticed them.  Yet, they are always staying for "3 weeks", which turns into 3 months for the tenant I recently added, 7 weeks for the other guest (who also came with a child and cat), and now the most recent one I'm pretty sure will stay until the end of the lease.  And he has only been in the place for 5 months. Among his other situations, it's been quite the experience.  But a learning one at that!  

Is there a way you can make it a hassle for them to have guests over often? For example, switching to FOB keys so only one person has a key?

@Chris Lad, that's also a great idea!  In my lease it does state that he needs to provide me a written request to make any copies of keys; however, with going on the 3rd long-term guest I know he has made copies and has never asked.  But, it's kind of a hard thing to prove.  I had never thought of a FOB key though, that can't be copied!

Originally posted by @Danielle Moser :

@MarciaMaynard, thank you!  That language would work perfectly.  Yes, living next door obviously makes me a little more sensitive because it is my home.  He has always told me about the visitors, I think only because I would've noticed them.  Yet, they are always staying for "3 weeks", which turns into 3 months for the tenant I recently added, 7 weeks for the other guest (who also came with a child and cat), and now the most recent one I'm pretty sure will stay until the end of the lease.  And he has only been in the place for 5 months. Among his other situations, it's been quite the experience.  But a learning one at that!  

 It is unusual for a tenant to open their home to long term guests on a regular basis. He is really pushing the envelope. Also, if the guest brings a pet with them, how does that work with terms of your lease? Do you have a pet policy? Pets can cause a lot of damage in a short time. If I were you, I would do a property inspection now and on a regular basis, such as every three months or every six months. Give him proper legal notice to do so. Charge for damages as they occur or as you find them. If you wait until move-out there probably won't be enough security deposit to cover your loss. Good luck!

Originally posted by @Nicole W.:

...

Definitely add the wording into your lease for future tenants, but even with the wording, this would be a difficult thing to enforce. What would you do anyway? Evict over it? Then you'd have to compile all kinds of evidence that the person actually lives there and that's tough. Pictures of extra beds? They could be guest beds! Mail with their name on it? Why are you checking the tenants' mail?!

...

Typicàlly, a lease will state that an additional amount (say $50) will be due monthly for each additional unauthorized occupant. So it doesn't have to lead to eviction, and it definitely shouldn't cause added financial outlays by the landlord. 

@Danielle Moser

You might want to see if there are good landlord or apartment associations that are active in Buffalo.  Often membership there includes a lease.  Generally, they stay on top of landlord tenant laws and update notices and leases as laws change.

For $50-150 annual membership, you could get a good lease that will cover things like guests and perhaps some things you haven't anticipated.

Less expensive than an attorney and safer than an internet form.

Good luck!

Even with the fee for unauthorized occupants, you'd still have to prove it to a judge if your tenant challenges you on charging that fee. I'm just saying, it's not *as* easy to enforce as things like nonpayment of rent.

305-537-6252

Hi Danielle- I am sure we have all learned to add things to our leases the hard way. I know I have. As for your tenant making keys for their "guests," I think that would be fairly easy to prove. I assume you have an amicable relationship with your tenant and their guests, since you live next door? If so, just spend some time on the porch sipping on some lemonade. When the guests show up to unlock the door, simply ask, in the most casual way you can, if the tenant made them their own key. They probably won't even think to lie about it. I've used this tactic when tenants have had "guests" for a month. I've just shown up at the property, knocked on the door and told the guest that I was the landlord and wanted to meet him so that he knew who to call if there were any issues. He opened right up about having moved in, what needed repaired in the house, etc.

Corby Goade, Real Estate Agent
208-297-3010

@Marcia Maynard , he is definitely pushing the envelope.  It's not a "normal" situation at at all, it's very strange and seems as if something shady is going on.  I do have a no pet clause in my lease; however, I was much to trusting and didn't say 'no' to allowing the pet, as it was only supposed to be 3 weeks.  He didn't really ask me, just basically told me the "co-worker", her son and cat would be staying.  But, 3 weeks turned into 7 weeks and I had to ask them to leave.  Again, my own ignorance.  I allowed him to take advantage.  Property inspection is a good idea, I will schedule that.  I was in there recently and he keeps it very neat and clean, the main issue is the visitors, along with his spotted past that didn't show up on a background check.  @Corby Goade , we used to have a good relationship until he moved in his 3rd "guest".  I also feel very uncomfortable speaking to him alone and I've told him we can discuss issues through documentation.  The anger he has shown when I asked about visitors was not a threat; however, knowing more about his past now, it is a bit threatening to me.  I don't feel very comfortable in my own home with him next door.  

My lease says that the application is part of the rental agreement, so any misrepresentation on the application is grounds for eviction. 

 As for proving that the guest is living there and not just visiting, you're correct, it is difficult to prove.  I had a section 8 tenant with a boyfriend causing problems and I knew he was living there (with his Pit Bull).  The previous owner had in the lease that the pit bull could visit.  Another tenant complained to the housing authority.  All he had to do to prove he did not live there was produce some mail to him at another address.

 When I gave them 30 day notice at the end of the lease they were very angry and threatened violence.  I paid somebody to deliver the  notice.  Best $80 I've ever spent! The housing authority wanted me to tell them why I was ending the lease, and even asked if it was because of the boyfriend.  I refused to give a reason and said I simply wanted possession of the apartment back.

 If you end up waiting for the end of the lease, do not give a reason for non-renewal.  Without a reason, there's nothing to argue about or prove.  Just make sure you do all the paperwork correctly.  They don't just leave at the end of the lease, you have to give proper notice.  I'm sorry you're going through this!

J. OCCUPANTS: No persons except those specifically named on Application and in Section A of this Agreement will be permitted to occupy the unit. Any additional occupant 18 years of age or older must also complete an Application for Tenancy and be approved by the Landlord. If Tenant fails to inform Landlord of additional people occupying premises, the Landlord may charge a fee or terminate the lease. No occupants will be
allowed or approved whose occupancy will exceed the occupancy standards of the Landlord or of any local, state, or federal codes or ordinances or who could pose a threat to other tenants, neighbors, or the Landlord or his employees. Unapproved occupants are trespassers.

Here is what my lease states. I have 7 days maximum stay for guests, which is totally up to you. I will also be living on one side of my duplex but have not yet placed a tenant so this post is helping me as much as you!

Thank you everyone, this has been very helpful!

@Danielle Moser
Hi Danielle,
I'm not sure whether the current "guest" has a child or not, but you can check into your local tenant occupancy laws. There are rules covering the number of unrelated occupants per bedroom. Maybe this will help. Good luck!

Alisa

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