Tenant Wants Ex-Wife to Move In

25 Replies

My tenant has asked to move his ex-wife in.  She will not qualify as a tenant due to the terms and conditions of my screening and application criteria, primarily because she is unemployed.  I have told him that all occupants must have a lease agreement to be a resident.  Is there anything that I can do other than tell him that she must undergo the same application and screening process as any other potential tenant, and since she does not qualify she will not be permitted a lease agreement?  I envision endless adverse scenarios by permitting her to move in, even with a lease agreement.  And I would be discriminating if I didn't disqualify her based on the application and screening terms and conditions.

Many thanks!     

Originally posted by @Hud Hudson :

My tenant has asked to move his ex-wife in.  She will not qualify as a tenant due to the terms and conditions of my screening and application criteria, primarily because she is unemployed.  I have told him that all occupants must have a lease agreement to be a resident.  Is there anything that I can do other than tell him that she must undergo the same application and screening process as any other potential tenant, and since she does not qualify she will not be permitted a lease agreement?  I envision endless adverse scenarios by permitting her to move in, even with a lease agreement.  And I would be discriminating if I didn't disqualify her based on the application and screening terms and conditions.

Many thanks!     

 She is an "ex" wife for a reason. You are asking for trouble to find out why she is the "ex". There is no commitment there from one to the other. 

@Storm S. - my policy is that each tenant must qualify as an individual so if they are left alone, they can afford the rent.  This individual does not qualify so if my tenant leaves, I could be stuck with a squatter. 

@Hud Hudson - ask yourself, if she moves in anyway, are you better off if she’s on the lease or not? Sometimes people reconcile with their exes after they find out nobody else likes all their quirks. Do you want to boot this tenant if she is a permanent “guest”? There’s your answer. (Though admittedly sometimes landlord resistance causes other decisions to be made. I have a shared house rental and made roommates sign that no overnight guests without my permission, so the girls go to the guys house to sleep over instead of bringing them to my house.)

These situations are the hazards of being a landlord.  What you're able to do vs what's practical.  You can screen, deny, and tell the ex no thanks.  Tenants can ignore you, which is likely on a relationship like this. Hell, I'm sure somewhere out there someone might even plan all along to bring someone less qualified in.  I've had people put girlfriends on apps then cross them out before handing in because of bad credit, knowing they will be moving in.  If you push it, do you turn the "good" tenant into an adversary?  Do you evict both due to unauthorized occupant?   That's pretty expensive. 

Realistically, you may just end up approving and having them on lease just to have them contractually obligated to your rules.  

The risk I see is that the tenant leaves and the ex stays but can’t afford the rent.  I would think it’s more expensive to have someone living there, not paying rent, than to have a vacancy. 

if they are on the same lease is even if one person leaves they are both still liable. If one of them leaves when the lease is up just don't renew the lease with the ex 

Is it possible to have any additional, unqualified applicants sign a lease and collect a months rent and security deposit from each additional person?  In case the current tenant leaves (he has already paid first and last month rent), I would have an extra month of rent covered and holding an extra security deposit during the eviction process of any squatters. 

@Storm S. - I understand your point, but if he leaves and she cannot afford the rent, won’t I have a squatter until she is evicted?  I suppose that’s the case with any tenant who fails to pay rent.  I wonder if I can collect a months rent and security deposit form her to have a month covered in case of an eviction. 

If his income meets your income requirements then her lack of income should not be an issue. I would only be concerned about if she has a felony criminal record or any evictions on her record. I would deny her if she has felonies or evictions but accept her otherwise.

Stick with your initial instincts. Everything in your initial post is right. Make sure she doesn't move in anyway because she won't be on the lease and it will be harder to evict her since you have no written agreement. You will still win it will just take longer.

@Bob B. - In the past I’ve had spouses in a single lease ageeement.   Both had to apply and pass the screening but only one  needed to qualify financially for both.   This is a different situation than a stay at home mom.  This a tenant wanting to bring in another occupant two years after he signed a lease.  If I have threee individuals wanting to rent from me, all three must qualify individually so if two leave, one can still pay the rent. I think this is my situation, not a stay at home mom situation. And stay  at home mom is an occupation. This person is unemployed.

@peter - how do I make sure she doesn’t move in?  She showed up today (not with a moving truck, just with her car), and my guest policy allows a guest to stay for one week in a two month period. I know if she’s still there more than a week I can serve a “cure or quit” on the tenant, but at what point is she “moved in”, thus making it more difficult to remove her?

@Peter M. - how do I make sure she doesn’t move in? She showed up today (not with a moving truck, just with her car), and my guest policy allows a guest to stay for one week in a two month period. I know if she’s still there more than a week I can serve a “cure or quit” on the tenant, but at what point is she “moved in”, thus making it more difficult to remove her?

Only way I can think of would be limit the number of continuous days but.... Also the total number in a say a month?

5 days in row and no more than 15 in a month ? No idea if that'd fly and you already have a lease in place...

in California, a tenancy would be formed after 1 month. If your scared that she won't pay rent to get tenant default insurance and have her get a security deposit bond if she doesn't have money to put down a security deposit.

I have not been in this exact situation but I did inherit a tenant when I bought a property and was never provided with a lease. I gave her a 3 day notice but when I went to file, the clerk told me that since there was no lease I was required to give her 30 days notice because she was a tenant at will. I think the clerk was wrong because she never paid me any rent so a landlord/tenant relationship was never established but I wasn't going to argue with the clerk so I just waited 27 more days then filed. I was never able nor have ever been able to find anything in the property code that gives me a good answer either way.

 The whole issue would be murky if it ever had to go to court so the best thing to do is try and avoid it. Texas laws may vary slightly on this topic from OK so check your property code but this is what I would do:

Make a note today that she appears to have moved in. This can be in your accounting or PM software like quickbooks if you have it or just a letter you print and sign yourself with the date and put in the tenant file. After 7 days, notify the "tenant and all occupants" (and list both by name) that he is in violation of the lease. In Texas we don't have to offer a chance to cure. You can if you want it but if he doesn't cure, it will only make the process take longer. He violated the lease and that is grounds for termination of the right of occupancy. In this situation, if he is a 2 year tenant and he has been paying rent and otherwise not a problem tenant, I would give him the option to cure, maybe 7 days. If still not fixed you file for eviction. 

In Texas each person you file against is a separate fee and he is technically your only tenant so you would file against him only. This saves you money and most tenants do not know that if they are not on the court case the eviction does not apply to them. It shouldn't matter because if you evict him, she should move out too. Also, if you have to have the sherriff come to forcibly remove them after the waiting period everything below that I write will not apply since the sheriff will deliver the unit empty and you can change the locks, problem solved. 

This whole process will take several weeks. If you are really unlucky and she fights it and doesn't move out or figures out a way to get back in or shows the sheriff that she isnt on the judgement and he lets her stay, you are still covered because you already gave notice to her at the same time you gave the original notice. It will be well past the 30 day limitation and you can then file a separate suit against her since she is holding over. 

This is obviously the worst case scenario save them trashing the unit. With everything, avoiding a lawsuit is best so sending threatening letters may be enough to get her to move on and you never actually file for eviction. Talk to them and try to work it out before it gets to the courts. Good luck

Thanks, everyone.  Each of you have provided valuable input.  I intend to allow the tenant to move people in on a lease agreement, but only if they qualify under my screening criteria.  I believe I can circumvent the unemployment issue by retaining one month of rent and one security deposit per additional tenant since the original tenant pays the rent each month. If the additional tenant moves out, I refund the retainers.  If the original tenant moves out and leave the additional tenant there, I will have one month if rents and an security deposit when the additional tenant lease is terminated.  That way if i need to evict, ive got some of the occupancy time covered. 

She doesn’t work bro. Even the paper boy has a better chance to pay the rent than her . Might as well book an appearance on the jerry springer show now after she signs the lease

I don't understand why she has to qualify financially if he already does? If she passes all other screening criteria just use an addendum to add her as a roommate.

How long has this tenant been with you?  If he has been paying and she has no issues with her other background checks then I would say let him have her as a roommate.  Do they have children? If so I can see him wanting to give her a chance to be with them.  What is the difference with this than a girlfriend?

@Paul Ewing - he has been a tenant for a couple years now. These two have No kids together. Roommates/boyfriends/girlfriends all must qualify as individuals per my policy so if/when one leaves, the other can maintain the rent responsibility.  I would not risk having roomates collectively qualify because that means they depend on one another.  Roommates, BF’s, and GF’s have individual life events that are independent of one another.  Since collectively they would make up an uncertain one-half, one-third, etc. of the lease, it’s best to have each qualify for his/ her own separate lease.