Boyfriend Squatter alert

32 Replies

Originally posted by @Adam Kruse :

Hi All

One of my properties is being renting to a single, female student. The lease stipulates no visitor can stay more than 48 hours without being added to the lease. Her boyfriend is now staying at the property for 48 hours, leaves for a few days and then comes back for another 48 hours. When I confronted her she said that he never stays more than 48 hours. Anyone have any tips or dealt with this before? I feel like they are just gaming the lease to avoid having to add another renter. The rent includes utilities to having him at the property so much is increasing my cost.

 I think every landlord who owns enough units has the exact same property and we certainly run in to this problem all the time.

When tenants bring guests into their units who are not on the lease I have mixed feelings in regards to how I want to police my properties. I don't want to install hidden cameras and clock guests in and our of units. I don't really want to count the number of hours a guest is banging a tenant. Even though you have a signed lease  limiting the number of hours a guest can visit if I signed that lease I would still feel you don't have the right to police my unit and start banging my door down because my guest flushed the toilet a few times and at 2.25 gallons per flush that is no big deal and will not put you our of business.

I don't know what water costs, but in California we pay almost $60 per unit per month and more units have 2 to 3 tenants per unit. I will use the number 2 to make the cost for water per person higher which will be $30 per person, or $1.00 per day per person.

So, if your tenant's guest stays for 3 days you just lost $3. If the guest stays 30 days you lost $30 and that could be significant if you had 10 tenants who bring in an extra guest you would lose $300 per month, or $3,600 per year. Lets not get carried away and stick with 1 tenant who has a guest who stays 3 days 4 times a month. Then, you are losing $12 per month. NO BIG DEAL!

I wrote this story about 5 times on BP. About 24 months ago, I had a nice quiet tenant who was paying his rent on time and he brought in both a girlfriend and a dog. My wife confronted him a few times and he had a bad attitude. So, we evicted him. Usually we rent units within a few days, but for some reason it took 6 months to find a tenant for this unit and I lost about $9,000 in income plus about $800 to clean and paint the unit. I think I shot myself in the foot on that one.

If he is only visiting 10 to 15 days per month and you are losing $15 for water and the tenant is nice and pays on time you could still ask for $30 to $50 per month, but maybe the girl is getting some hot sex and she expects it to die out soon and doesn't want her friend to keep coming over. Maybe, they have some serious school project and they need to work together. In my opinion, I don't feel it is right to make struggling students have to pay because they want to spend some time with their classmates.

There are a lot of different scenarios, but I don't like to bang on a tenants door every time they do something wrong and a little water use is no big deal. It reminds me of when I go to stinky mom and pop restaurants and I ask for something like a little extra butter and they charge me 25 cents or 50 cents. I get angry and ask the owner if they give people discounts off the menu price when people order the same food and they don't want any butter, at all.

Originally posted by @Adam Kruse :

Hi Bill - 1) no it wouldn't make any difference if it were a different male - it just bothers me that someone is living at the property half-time rent-free. 2) this unit is a basement unit below my primary home - so I can see his truck parked out front when he's here. Sounds like maybe I just need to let it go 

 This guy is probably paying full rent somewhere else and I never heard of a person paying rent at their unit and then paying rent at their girlfriend's unit.

You need to chill, smoke some good stuff and focus on the big things that make the big money.

Your lease should stipulate how long someone can stay and still be considered a guest. I use eight days a month, which would cover someone that stays over on the weekends.

If you have evidence that it's causing a significant increase in the utilities, talk to her and ask her to take responsibility by paying enough to cover the increase. Otherwise, her rent includes utility use and it includes the right to guests, so you've basically painted yourself in the corner and have to accept it.

In the future, I recommend determining how much to charge the tenant for actual use based on historical averages, then bump it up 10% or 15% to cover for excess use by guests or whatever.

@Adam Kruse as a young college student I would be clear your intent is you don't want another tenant who has not been screened by you moving in and your utility costs have increased. 

I actually never thought about this as a young tenant and I remember after move in getting some bookshelves and while  my helper and I were on the stairs to my apartment The landlord came out of her apartment saying if he is moving in the rents going up. I think the helper was a little taken aback but I reassured the landlord. However, I had had overnight guests without comment.

I have a similar issue with a single family now where I provide water that is like a rotating care home, one older couple, then the wifes x-husband moves in, then her mom, then her brother. Last two are leaving when they are well enough to leave the state.  1st 3 are now on the lease.  Good thing is they are catching up on back rent.   It increases water use though. 

@Adam Kruse

Lease modification sounds like the move going forward. I agree with the others and think this is a time suck that could be used for the next deal instead!!! Learn from this and modify your future leases with any of the recommendations on this thread to alleviate stress in future lease agreements!!! Good luck my friend!!!

OP, I apologize you are having to put up with so many dismissive comments from fellow landlords.  I think it's prudent to ask the question - no need to jump all over the guy.

I see two concerns here that most everyone has glossed over.  First of all, this rental unit is in the OP's primary residence - so he's got more of a vested interest on what's going on downstairs because of the proximity to his own family.  Second, I think it's valid to have some idea who is living in your apartment for not only safety (whether it be your own family, other tenants, or neighbors depending on the property) but also - at least in NY - anyone who stays 30 days automatically gets full tenant rights.  You wouldn't want someone to have those rights to your asset without you knowing at least some cursory information like their legal name.  There are a few threads here on BP where a landlord was having trouble serving notice on an occupant because when their tenant moved, this person stayed.

My concern would not be utilities or wear/tear, but rather the liability I would shoulder for his actions or surrendering legal rights to him by me being ambivalent.  As long as he is "coming and going" (bite your tongue, @Jim K. !), it sounds like they are trying to preserve the spirit of your lease provision.  As always, communication with your tenant is paramount.

Good luck!