Conflict of interest with tenant/guest of tenant

2 Replies

My fiance works for the department of corrections and must report any conflicts of interest with his job.  We just recently purchased our first rental and are unsure how to include this conflict of interest clause in the lease.  While we can ask if the tenant has a criminal history before we rent to them, how would we appropriately handle a guest of the tenant that has a criminal history, but is not on the lease?  We want to include some type of verbiage in the lease, in addition to telling perspective applicants, but are unsure how to do this without breaking any laws.   We basically want to advise them 'if there is anyone on the property at any time that poses a direct conflict of interest with the owners of the property, we the owners reserve the right to ask you to leave'  would this verbiage work?  Has anyone else encounted a similar scenario?  If so, how did you handle it?  Any thoughts or insight is greatly appreciated! 

There is no conflict of interest with a guest.  I suggest that you review the definition of conflict of interest, as it is defined by your fiancees' employer.  I strongly suspect that what you will find is that the definition prevents a contractual relationship only.

In fact, as I wrote the above I became curious, so I looked it up.  Assuming he works for the PA Department of Corrections, this is the conflict of interest language that applies:

"No Department employee shall represent or act as an agent for any private interest, whether compensable or not, which could be reasonably expected to result in a conflict between the private interest of the employee and his/her official state responsibility. This includes, but is not limited to, representing the interests of inmates."

There is no way that a tenant having a guest who has a criminal record comes remotely close to violating this provision.

There is also this language on fraternization:

"There shall be no fraternization or private relationship of staff with inmates, parolees, or members of their families. This includes, but is not limited to, trading, bartering or receiving gifts, money, and favors from the inmate or the inmate’s friends, relatives or representative. Moreover, employees are not to deliver gifts or money to inmates’ friends, relatives, or representatives."

First, note that it only applies to "inmates, parolees, or members of their families."  This means that it does not apply to ex-cons who are not on parole.  It could be read to mean that you should not rent to, say, the spouse of a current inmate.  But even then, not really.

The bottom line is that the language you are considering is almost certainly impermissibly vague, and is also unnecessary.  No guest of a tenant presents a conflict of interest because you do not have any financial relationship with a guest.

I strongly suggest you not include that language at all.  But I even more strongly suggest that you seek the opinion of an attorney licensed in your state, and/or your fiancees management or union representative.