Okaying long term guest w/o adding him to lease -- anyone have experience?

9 Replies

The tenant in one of my houses (so far very responsible, pays on time) wants her boyfriend to be able to live with her for a while.  She volunteered the information, and he filled out a rental application, and I've run the background check -- he's approved to stay there.

Here's the question -- though the lease states that an additional adult should be added to the lease if approved, the tenant doesn't want her boyfriend on the lease.  I can understand -- it may be a temporary arrangement until he finds another place, or she may not want to be tied into living together by lease if things fall through.  The boyfriend has a fine background but awful credit anyway.  

I plan to write up an addendum to the tenant's lease confirming that the boyfriend has been approved by landlord as a long-term guest of the tenant, with legal responsibility to follow all the rules as outlined in the lease, but with no right to occupancy without consent of tenant or beyond the terms of the lease (runs through December).  Are there any other clauses/stipulations I should include?

I read through previous forum posts about similar situations. What is Tenancy at Will? Does anybody have a relevant addendum or other document to share?  Thanks!

The original tenant is taking on more risk by allowing someone to move-in and not adding them to the lease as jointly and severally liable.

We tried to do what you are trying to do several years ago. It did not turn out well. From the beginning, the original tenant did not want to add their friend to the rental agreement. So we made the friend an "authorized occupant." Regardless the friend became our a legal tenant by default and was fully protected by landlord-tenant law. We could not, in our jurisdiction, legally deny the "guest" tenant their rights by writing an addendum that gave the original tenant more control. 

How does a person become a tenant by default? In most states a person can establish tenancy by moving into a place and staying a particular length of time and/or demonstrating proof of residency by receiving mail at that location, establishing utility services in their name, or changing their driver's license to that address. Always good to check the landlord-tenant laws for your jurisdiction.

The rest of the story... The two "friends" got to the point of not getting along and the "guest" friend who had moved in had nowhere else to go and just stayed. Things got worse for both parties and they were not resolving the matter on their own. Finally we served both parties a "no cause" legal notice to terminate the tenancy. Luckily we could do this sooner rather than later because we had a MTM rental agreement and not a long term lease. The "guest" friend decided to move at that point. If she hadn't we would have completed the eviction of both tenants through the court process. As it turned out, after the "guest" tenant was gone, we were able to cancel the termination of tenancy process and allow the original tenant to stay.

Lesson learned. Now we have a very clear guest policy and we have a means to add and remove parties from the rental agreement when there is a change in the make-up of the household. I suggest you get such in place, as this kind of scenario is not that uncommon.

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :

The original tenant is taking on more risk by allowing someone to move-in and not adding them to the lease as jointly and severally liable.

We tried to do what you are trying to do several years ago. It did not turn out well. From the beginning, the original tenant did not want to add their friend to the rental agreement. So we made the friend an "authorized occupant." Regardless the friend became our a legal tenant by default and was fully protected by landlord-tenant law. We could not, in our jurisdiction, legally deny the "guest" tenant their rights by writing an addendum that gave the original tenant more control. 

How does a person become a tenant by default? In most states a person can establish tenancy by moving into a place and staying a particular length of time and/or demonstrating proof of residency by receiving mail at that location, establishing utility services in their name, or changing their driver's license to that address. Always good to check the landlord-tenant laws for your jurisdiction.

The rest of the story... The two "friends" got to the point of not getting along and the "guest" friend who had moved in had nowhere else to go and just stayed. Things got worse for both parties and they were not resolving the matter on their own. Finally we served both parties a "no cause" legal notice to terminate the tenancy. Luckily we could do this sooner rather than later because we had a MTM rental agreement and not a long term lease. The "guest" friend decided to move at that point. If she hadn't we would have completed the eviction of both tenants through the court process. As it turned out, after the "guest" tenant was gone, we were able to cancel the termination of tenancy process and allow the original tenant to stay.

Lesson learned. Now we have a very clear guest policy and we have a means to add and remove parties from the rental agreement when there is a change in the make-up of the household. I suggest you get such in place, as this kind of scenario is not that uncommon.

Great advice.   Georgia works the same way.  If someone moves in with your tenant with or without your permission or adding to the lease, they have the same rights as your tenant.  You will have to have them evicted if they will not go on their own.  Check with your lawyer.

Consider this. What will you do in six months to a year later when this relationship falls apart and another boyfriend/roommate is moved in because the tenant is used to splitting the cost of living with someone?

Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard :

Lesson learned. Now we have a very clear guest policy and we have a means to add and remove parties from the rental agreement when there is a change in the make-up of the household. I suggest you get such in place, as this kind of scenario is not that uncommon.

 Marcia, would you share the exact phrasing of your guest policy, and your "means to add and remove parties from the rental agreement"?  Understanding, of course, that KY and GA have different laws and you're not an attorney.  I would like to understand your process.

We have never had luck with boyfriends.  3 of my last 4 damaged unit + no pay turnovers were the result of a breakup. At least they warned you, which is rare, but warning bells should be going off if the girlfriend doesn't even want him on the lease.  Also be wary of his terrible credit and the effect it can have on her.  His poor money decisions may result in her inability to pay rent if she has to bail him out of financial trouble time and again.

Originally posted by @Anna Watkins :
Originally posted by @Marcia Maynard:

Lesson learned. Now we have a very clear guest policy and we have a means to add and remove parties from the rental agreement when there is a change in the make-up of the household. I suggest you get such in place, as this kind of scenario is not that uncommon.

 Marcia, would you share the exact phrasing of your guest policy, and your "means to add and remove parties from the rental agreement"?  Understanding, of course, that KY and GA have different laws and you're not an attorney.  I would like to understand your process.

Sure. Here is an excerpt from our rental agreement.

"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."

We choose to  use month-to-month rental agreements instead of longer term leases. This allows us to terminate quickly and efficiently when needed. In most counties of Washington state, such as our county, we can terminate a tenancy with a 20-day "Notice to Terminate Tenancy" for no-cause. The tenant can also give us a 20-day notice to terminate tenancy, so it is an even playing field. Rarely will a tenant give us only 20 days, and rarely will we give a tenant only 20 days. But it is good to know we can.

To add or release a tenant we can terminate the previous MTM agreement and enter into a new one. Or can make changes with an addendum, agreed to and signed by all parties. By the way, most of our tenants stay long term.... most over 5 years, some over 10 years, and two have been with us more than 20 years! So we don't need longer term leases that would lock us in as well as a tenant.

@Anna Watkins are there printed forms that deal with that situation? Think you need to be very careful here because if your tenant moves out and the BF stays you need the correct paperwork to get him out. In Oregon we have a temporary tenant agreement and a lease. He would need to fit the parameters of one or the other.

If he is going to live there long-term it  doesn't matter what the woman wants, he needs to be on the lease. Have had the same situation. Had to give notice to get their attention and then write a new lease.

You should have him on the lease if he is going to stay there.  This recently happened to my girlfriend:

She was living in an apartment for a long time and she had a "friend" that had no place to live so out of the kindness of her heart, let her stay with her without being on the lease.  The multi family owner was a friend of hers so she was able to do this.  Long story short, the girl who moved in started getting into drugs and hanging out with a bad crowd.  I told my girlfriend to move out and live with me.  She told the owner she was moving out (tenant at will).  The other girl did not want to leave or pay rent.  We went to the police many times explaining that she was not on the lease and see if they could get her out.  Well in MA, if your there for 3months or more (I believe) you have rightful standing in the apartment.  We even tried to get a restraining order against her so we could evict her that way...which didn't work.  The cops were onto us and said we were trying to "back evict" her...which we were... and said we could go through with it, but just so you know you will have to purge yourself in court.  We didn't pursue this any longer. 

Basically the cops sided with the other girl because she was "living" there and they needed a court executed document to remove her from the apartment.  

Long story short - they had to go through the whole eviction process to get her to leave.  Fortunately, there is a judge in the MA courts who doesn't take crap from deadbeat tenants so she ordered her to be out in 30 days....actually....tomorrow is her last day March 31st.  

In the meantime...no rent...and a lot of aggravation to the owner.

Thank you, @Marcia Maynard .  I will borrow from your wording -- what I want is a three-way agreement among Landlord, Tenant and Guest, with the guest's occupancy only upon consent of Tenant, and no money exchanged between Landlord and Guest explicitly written and signed by all.  Hopefully (but not guaranteed) this will end-run around a Tenant at Will claim.  

Everybody, I appreciate your responses, and boy, I'd never thought of many complications you brought up.  The Tenant is really upfront and reliable, I'd like to keep her for another lease period at the end of the year, and this guy totally checks out except for bad student loans. His previous landlords and employers gave good references, he's got a good job now, and if I say no, it's likely he'll be there anyway (neighbor says he's there a lot anyway).  We'll get all our understandings in writing, and fly with it.

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