Cost for Additional Tenants or Renting to Married Couples

25 Replies

What is the standard approach when renting to an unmarried vs married couple? My thought was that if it's an unmarried couple, they must individually qualify to be a tenant or else their name cannot go on the lease as opposed to a married couple where their combined income is treated as single income and therefore would only need to qualify together. (Side note: is it ok to ask the married couple to provide a copy of their marriage certificate as proof?)

When you are renting to a couple, whether they are married or not, what is the rule when raising rent? If rent is usually $700 per month, how much can you raise the rent for additional person such as a spouse, partner, or child? I read somewhere that you can increase rent by 10% but I don't know if that applies for Philly as well. 

Lastly, I have a clause in my lease that says if a person not listed on the lease is found to be occupying the residence as a long term guest that there will be a $100 fee charged for each month. I also specify that anyone who spends more than 15 days/nights at the residence per month or has "tenant privileges" (such as a key to the unit) is considered a long term guest and will incur the fee. Is there a rule for how much of a fee I can charge? I make the fee high to detract tenants from moving in any deadbeat friends/boyfriends, etc (I've learned from experience).

My rental is in Philadelphia so I am specifically looking for tips and info related to that market.

I am not giving legal advice here: this is my opinion. Ask everyone over 18 that will live there to fill out an application. Then you avoid this determination of qualification. You can also put in the lease if a guest stays over 15 days without the written consent of the landlord, the tenant is in breach of the lease. That gives you leverage over "guests" who are actually living there. 

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@Jessica F.

I don't think you need a copy of the marriage cert. If they file jointly, that should be enough. Also there is no rule for increasing the rent (aside from giving the proper notice 30-60 days in advance. 

In regards to the $100 fee for additional occupants. If it is in the lease, I would enforce it, and in the future, I wouldn't put anything in the lease that I would not enforce, or that I wouldn't hold the tanants accountable to.

All the best of luck to you

@Account Closed My intention was not to refuse renting to married couples, it was to find out what the rule of thumb is for increasing rent when there are multiple tenants (spouse, partner, or children) because I was told you can increase rents for more tenants per unit since more tenants results in more wear and tear on the apt itself. Pls re-read my original post. Thanks.

Are you saying that your advertised rent amount is only for single people? Roommates, married or not, are pretty standard practice in most every rental situation I've seen. You're going to end up with an awful lot of unhappy prospective tenants if you create what looks like a bait n switch on the rent amount.

@Dede Christensen I agree with the contract clause about long term guests which I already have in the contract. But what happens if the tenant is over 18 and technically doesn't qualify to be on the lease--how much can I/should I charge for that extra adult who is living there? For instance, if a single mother and a child age 19 moves--the child doesn't work and have any credit and is in college etc, what can I charge for that adult child being an additional tenant?

@Jeremy Brown Hi Jeremy, I read somewhere on a blog site that you can (meaning have the option)--I don't know if it's standard to raise rent with couples or additional occupants hence why I posted the question on here to find out what is standard for my area and market. But since more people in the apartment does result in more wear and tear, it seemed to make sense. I don't just mean for couples (married or unmarried) but also with children as well etc.

Marriage is not part of the conversation. All tenant names go on the lease and given background and credit check to qualify. Combine the income if you want at your own risk. Both married and single couples split, one moves out and claims they're no longer responsible for rent and want part of the security deposit returned. They can work out shares between them as all tenants are responsible to pay the rent in full and on time or all are evicted. Names not on the lease are guests staying 2 weeks or less.

Anyone over the age of 18 is considered an adult  therefore, I require anyone 18 or over to be a leaseholder. This allows you to run background checks & credit on all & hold them accountable for the lease. I place this on my rental criteria. In regards to guest my lease clearly states that if anyone stays over 2 weeks then they are considered an occupant and must go through the applicant screening. This prevents the possibility that there could someone living in your building that does not meet your rental criteria.This benefits you as the landlord for liability reasons as well as all residents of the building. In Florida the housing laws is 2 individuals per room. If you have more than that it is a violation. I include this on my criteria as well. I am not familiar with charging more for having a certain# of individuals in a unit, but I base my rents strictly on the market.I would consider finding out if there are limits in Philadelphia regarding the amount of occupants allowed in units & then proceed to either qualify the additional occupants or send them a notice that they are in violation of their lease.

@Account Closed Thank you both for your insights. I will be looking to screen all applicants who are over the age of 18 from here on out. Quick question: what if a tenant wants to move in with a spouse or a child who is 18 or older but one person (the tenant) qualifies while the other occupants (who are all over 18) do not qualify. I'm assuming they can still stay at the property but their names just won't go on the lease as "tenant" but rather "other occupants" --is this correct? Thanks in advance.

Jessica

Stop whatever you are doing... log off of bigger pockets and go get a copy of the Fair Hosing Act.

Read it about 10 times. 

Familial Status (Children) are a protected class. 

Good luck. Be careful

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I don't charge extra per person.  I have one rental rate and a max occupancy.  If they are below the max occupancy, than no issues with adding rent.  I have tenants (single person, married couple, unmarried couple) and then the occupants (tenant and anyone else like children whether they be minors or adults or their parents).  I run background checks on all individuals but only run credit checks on the tenants.

Originally posted by @Jessica F. :

What is the standard approach when renting to an unmarried vs married couple? My thought was that if it's an unmarried couple, they must individually qualify to be a tenant or else their name cannot go on the lease as opposed to a married couple where their combined income is treated as single income and therefore would only need to qualify together. (Side note: is it ok to ask the married couple to provide a copy of their marriage certificate as proof?)

>> NO WE CAN NOT

When you are renting to a couple, whether they are married or not, what is the rule when raising rent? If rent is usually $700 per month, how much can you raise the rent for additional person such as a spouse, partner, or child? I read somewhere that you can increase rent by 10% but I don't know if that applies for Philly as well. 

>> YOU ARE RENTING A UNIT, NOT BEDS LIKE A HOTEL

Lastly, I have a clause in my lease that says if a person not listed on the lease is found to be occupying the residence as a long term guest that there will be a $100 fee charged for each month. I also specify that anyone who spends more than 15 days/nights at the residence per month or has "tenant privileges" (such as a key to the unit) is considered a long term guest and will incur the fee. Is there a rule for how much of a fee I can charge? I make the fee high to detract tenants from moving in any deadbeat friends/boyfriends, etc (I've learned from experience).

 When renting to 'unrelated parties' I require each to complete the entire application and I verify income and employment of each.  All adult parties must sign the lease.

@Jessica F. I've seen landlords who pay for utilities charge a different flat fee rate based on the number of occupants. But that's a separate utilities fee. I have never seen a rent pricing scale based on number of occupants. To me, that sounds like discrimination. While there is no hard and fast rule about number of occupants, it is a fine line.

@Jessica F.  It would depend why they don't qualify. If it is because of credit or lack thereof I would still have them complete an application & run a criminal background check. If this background is fine then list them as occupants on the lease. If it is not than do not accept based on your specific criteria. Most importantly you need to establish your rental criteria taking into account Fair Housing & provide them to all of your prospects. 

I only run the names of those over the age of 18. As even if they did it would likely be sealed.  I'm not sure why be sued for running a criminal background check on anybody under the age of 18 anyway. It's all public record.

Housing laws with respect to discrimination are very nuanced. For example there are new articles stating that HUD may be taking the position that all criminal background checks are potentially discriminatory. Why? ... because HUD argues that they is a higher convictiin rate among minorities... therefore using a criminal background check may discriminate unfairly against a protected class.

Don't shoot the messenger.

Solution: Have a formal written rental acceptance policy, and apply it uniformly to all tenants. For example, I disqualify for any child abuse or domestic violence, and can cite a good reason.

Remember, you can get into trouble even for asking a member of a protected class a simple question that you do not ask everyone else. Example, "Can you make it up the stairs OK with that cane?"

@Account Closed No worries.  I don't bother running criminal background checks on those under 18.  And I run my background checks through a state of Wisconsin maintained public website so it wouldn't give me information that wasn't meant for the public.  I'm not getting any information that the average person on the street can't get.  Thank you for your concern though.

@Monica Labrada Thanks for the reply! I will have all adults file an application and do the necessary background checks and make sure there is a clause in the lease that says something mentioning occupants not having a criminal history.