Tenant wants to move his new girlfriend and two kids in

10 Replies

One of my tenants wants to move his new girlfriend and her small children into my 2 bedroom apartment, it's only him there now. Am I legally allowed to increase his rent a little to cover the extra water usage? 

Read you lease over.  Many leases deal with provisions like this.  I think they might take a $50 rent increase for this.  You have more than double the wear and tear on the property.   I'd waive it if it is a longer term renter or your rents are a full market already.

A new lease needs to be completed. I would hope that he could appreciate that. Increased water usage is the least of your concerns. Wear and tear will increase significantly and you will be painting on turnover.

Technically, I'm guessing it depends on how your lease is stated. Do you have anything in there that explicitly states he is the only one allowed in the property? i.e. 1 adult occupant only?

If not, I'd ask your attorney. You may be out of luck there. But if it turns out you can't, you may be able to tell your tenant that he is the only one on the lease and he can't have anyone else there. Then see what he says. 

Most tenants don't know the laws either. So if it seems likely to be true, then tell him that and then tell him you will amend the lease to allow them to stay if they pay the additional water amount of $25/mo or whatever.

I guess the other question is would you have rented to him if he'd have had a girlfriend with 2 kids? Do you have a higher rental rate based on the number of occupants? 

That seems odd to me. I understand why you might want that given the water cost going up. But i'm not so sure if thats legal or not. I would think you'd have to do that as a water fee or something and not as rent.

I don't think you can charge single occupants less than say couples or couples with kids. Never really had it come up though so I don't know for sure if there's an issue there or not. But I'll be interested to see how other people respond to this one. :-)

@Samantha Klein

First off... Does the new girlfriend meet or exceed your screening and background requirements?  If not then you can say no.

Is she over 18? If so then all adults must be on the lease which means you need to do an addendum to the lease or write a new lease.  You can always say no to allowing them to move but in the end they will move in.   Typically rent isn't priced per person but rather per space/unit, so no you can't just raise the rent.

I would screen her like normal and allow her to move in even if she didn't pass the screening (no felony's etc).  You have one qualifying person.  Create a new lease that is month to month and this would allow you to up the rent price if you wish.  Be ready for push back on the rent increase.

Thanks everyone. The girlfriend has enough income herself to qualify by herself and has no criminal history. I think I will just add her to the lease and not charge any extra at this time but make them aware that if water usage exceeds x amount, rent will increase by x amount. I want to keep everyone happy.

Samantha have you taken any fair housing classes?  You could not discriminate based on her and her two kids causing more wear and tear. You also cannot restrict your unit to 1 adult.  Most guidelines state that you can have 2 occupants per bedroom and 1 in the living room. I would stay far far away from anything that can look like you are discriminating against her based on her familial status.  if she meets your selection criteria I would allow him to add her. Then depending on what your lease states in regards to water usage and fees you could go from there.  If you are unsure I would definitely consult with an attorney most will give at least a free consultation.   

I would definitely not bank on the fact that she may not know the tenant landlord law because that will open you up to a whole other mess! Hope this helps!!

How long has your tenant been there ?  You can check her out but not add her to the lease if the lease is nearing renewal by telling tenant that she can move in but when the lease renews, it going up xx dollars.

Also, if the kids are young, does the unit has de-lead certificates?

Some States it may be illegal to charge for water, so increase it for another matter.

If you have a no pet policy, make sure they know it.

Why do you buy water for people that pay you rent? 

@Eddie Memphis Common in this area to include water/sewer/trash. There's also one meter. I could charge but 99% of landlords include it so it's basically expected.

It is not illegal to raise rent to cover increased utility usage so i would be very surprized if charging for water is illegal. increase at renewal or revision. I like an excessive use clause. I have only had to use this once in 10 years in a student rental. A clause like this says if the use is over x ( approximate average over last year ) they will need to reimburse. This is something most people can understand and its fair. Multiple units on one water meter it can be harder. For occupancy refer to the HUD regulationals.

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