Tenant's 30 year old son moved in, do I increase rent?

19 Replies

Hi BP Community,

I've been looking for a rental property for about a year now in Cincinnati, Ohio and am about to close on my first property (Duplex, 2bdr, 1bdr)!

I'm inheriting two tenants on the first floor (the 2-bedroom). Their lease expires in Sept 2018 (ouch) and they're paying well below the market price rents. I found out today that their 30 year old son is going through a divorce and has been living with them for a few months with his dog. The 2 tenants already had 1 dog, their son has brought in another.

To account for this 3rd adult and 2nd dog (not on the lease) I believe I should do the following:

 1. Have son complete an application (including background check). Do you agree?

 2. Raise rent, but by how much? They currently pay $600/mo (market rate is about $696).  Maybe I use the son and dog as a reason to at least get them in line with the market? Thoughts?

 3. Lease doesn't specify anything about pets... Do I have the right to increase rents to account for the additional dog?

 Thanks for any advice!

- Tom

PS: The lease does stateonly the two people listed on the lease may live on the premises.

Does the son "live" or is he a guest staying less than 30 days (or whatever the lease says)? I'd talk to them about it, then offer to amend the current lease if they agree to the increased rent prior to amending. If they don't agree inform them they are breaking the lease by letting son live there etc...

@Tom Lipps , Hi, if your lease does not list any restrictions about pets, You cannot give this as reason to act in any way.  I would surely put pet clause into further lease agreements.  Now, the adult child moving in without notifiying you is grounds for what ever you have as remedies in lease.  Yes, do background check, fully, and adjust rents to meet this added risk and cost. 

You can't charge for a dog unless the lease says that you can.  Their lease ending at the end of September is actually a good thing for you.  You have a chance to tailor the next lease more to your liking.  With market rents and pet provisions.

Originally posted by @Matt K. :

Does the son "live" or is he a guest staying less than 30 days (or whatever the lease says)? I'd talk to them about it, then offer to amend the current lease if they agree to the increased rent prior to amending. If they don't agree inform them they are breaking the lease by letting son live there etc...

Thanks for your quick response! They told me their son has been living their "on and off" for a few months. However, I've have reason to believe he's been living there full-time since April.  

Originally posted by @Tom Lipps :

Thanks for your quick response! They told me their son has been living their "on and off" for a few months. However, I've have reason to believe he's been living there full-time since April.  

 That's going to be hard to prove, what's the lease state about long term guests?

Originally posted by @Matt K. :
Originally posted by @Tom Lipps:

Thanks for your quick response! They told me their son has been living their "on and off" for a few months. However, I've have reason to believe he's been living there full-time since April.  

 That's going to be hard to prove, what's the lease state about long term guests?

Unfortunately the lease I'm inheriting is pretty weak. It doesn't say anything about long term guests. It only says, "Residents agree that said premises shall be used only as a dwelling and for no other purposes and shall be occupied only by TENANT and those persons listed on TENANT's rental application."

Originally posted by @Tom Lipps:
Originally posted by @Matt Katsaris:
Originally posted by @Tom Lipps:

Thanks for your quick response! They told me their son has been living their "on and off" for a few months. However, I've have reason to believe he's been living there full-time since April.  

 That's going to be hard to prove, what's the lease state about long term guests?

Originally posted by @Anthony Hurlburt :

You can't charge for a dog unless the lease says that you can.  Their lease ending at the end of September is actually a good thing for you.  You have a chance to tailor the next lease more to your liking.  With market rents and pet provisions.

But it's a two year lease. Doesn't expire until Sept 2018!   :-(

You can't change things on the lease whenever it suits you. You can't raise rent whenever you want. Unless the lease has a provision that says otherwise, you can only raise the rent at the end of the lease or if the tenant agrees with it (and why would they?).

Same with the dogs, unless you can point to something in the lease that says you can charge something, you can't do this.

Really the only recourse you have is to hound on the "dwelling can only be occupied by tenant" and maybe convince them to agree to a new lease addendum where you allow the son to stay and they pay a bit more.

Keep in mind, you need to weigh the extra income against having disgruntled tenants - which is often pretty ******. 

Originally posted by @Travis Dawson :

You can't change things on the lease whenever it suits you. You can't raise rent whenever you want. Unless the lease has a provision that says otherwise, you can only raise the rent at the end of the lease or if the tenant agrees with it (and why would they?).

Same with the dogs, unless you can point to something in the lease that says you can charge something, you can't do this.

Really the only recourse you have is to hound on the "dwelling can only be occupied by tenant" and maybe convince them to agree to a new lease addendum where you allow the son to stay and they pay a bit more.

Keep in mind, you need to weigh the extra income against having disgruntled tenants - which is often pretty ******. 

@Travis Dawson    Great feedback. Especially in regards to the extra income vs having disgruntled tenants. If they were paying market rates, I'd be less inclined to pursue any action.

Your best option would be to tell your tenants that the son is violating their lease and must go. At the same time you could offer to release them from their lease if they choose. Getting rid of the son may motivate them to leave.

Getting rid of your present tenants and finding new ones at market rent will be your best option. If you are stuck with them till next September at least get rid of the son.

Once you push the issue you can suggest to them that you may be willing to draw up a new lease if they are interested including the son.

If they agree draw up a new M2M lease with all three on it with rent at $900 or whatever rate you feel is greedy enough to keep them. Then when he leaves a new M2M with just the two tenants can be at $800.

"What's to keep them from saying the son is just "visiting""

Your due diligence as a hands on owner to provide proof they are lying.

For example stake the place out and check to see whose name is on mail being delivered. If it is get a picture of it.

Watch his comings and goings. Document everything.

Evictions are usually a he said/she said situation. Just collect the evidence and present it.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

"What's to keep them from saying the son is just "visiting""

Your due diligence as a hands on owner to provide proof they are lying.

For example stake the place out and check to see whose name is on mail being delivered. If it is get a picture of it.

Watch his comings and goings. Document everything.

Evictions are usually a he said/she said situation. Just collect the evidence and present it.

Thanks for the advice. One thing I thought about doing was taking pictures every time I go; of everything. I heard this advice on the Podcast before. It basically protects both the Landlord and the Tenant; having a photographic Timeline saved to Dropbox.  I would do this for maintenance purposes, but it could double as a way to keep track of their son's whereabouts.

Originally posted by @Tom Lipps :
Originally posted by @Matt Katsaris:
Originally posted by @Tom Lipps:

Thanks for your quick response! They told me their son has been living their "on and off" for a few months. However, I've have reason to believe he's been living there full-time since April.  

 That's going to be hard to prove, what's the lease state about long term guests?

Unfortunately the lease I'm inheriting is pretty weak. It doesn't say anything about long term guests. It only says, "Residents agree that said premises shall be used only as a dwelling and for no other purposes and shall be occupied only by TENANT and those persons listed on TENANT's rental application."

 You'd have to be able to prove in court that he lives there full-time.  Pictures, like you said, would be the best option to document that.  Had a similar situation happen to me.  I happened to live in the building so I could hear the guy that moved in with his friend every day and have in my lease that "living the in the premises" is deemed to mean occupying the premises for more than 21 days in a 12 month period.