Unauthorized Tenant - Question

7 Replies

Hello,

I have a townhouse that was rented to a couple. One individual has moved out. I created a new lease effective June 1st with just the one person. 

I have a suspicion that she has or will get another roommate. The person would not be on the lease. I plan on doing a quarterly inspection, and if/when I find that both bedrooms look occupied,  I'll ask the question. 

What if the tenant says, no, there is no one else living there or it's just someone visiting from out of town. Should I push the issue? Is the burden of proof on me?

If they do say, yes, I have a roommate, then what?

Any advice would be appreciated.

LJ

Hi Lisa!

Does your lease address guests?  If so, the tenant must comply or be in violation of the lease.  And if not, then the tenant can allow anyone they wish to visit or live there.

We require the tenant to obtain approval for any guest who stays more than 5 nights a month.  This gives us the right to require an application from the guest/roommate, and thus a criminal background check.

Matt

I rented to a lot of graduate students, and their boyfriends or girlfriends would often move in.  I honestly just turned a blind eye.  If there were problems, I'd address the problems.

For instance, one tenant moved a GF in, and they had knock down drag out fights.  He received a couple warnings, and then I ended up giving him 30 days notice to move out. (MTM tenant).

I never addressed the fact that I knew the GF had moved in.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss.  If you are unaware of someone being in the unit, they can't then claim that because you were aware, that they then attained "tenant" status.

So, honestly, unless there is a problem of some kind, I'd just turn a blind eye.  There is no need to micro-manage the lives of your tenants otherwise.  And if you try to, they will likely lie and you'll put yourself in the time-consuming position of trying to police them.

So, my vote is to just leave it alone, until/unless you have to do something.

I just had to deal with this in Texas. It was a NIGHTMARE. Tenant had a lease allowing 2 adults and 3 kids.( though only he lived in the house) Unknown to me he rented out a room to a co-worker. Shortly after, co-worker's new girlfriend moved in. Not long after they have a big fight (cops are called) and he leaves. Girlfriend stays. I find out about the cops being called from neighbours. I speak to tenant and get the whole story. I tell him she must go or go through application and lease process. Find out she has a serious drug conviction and tell tenant she doesn't meet standards and she must go. She causes a MAJOR incident and gets tenant arrested for domestic violence. I terminate lease. Next day after he posts bail tenant moves out. I think THEY have moved out and have elec put in my name so I can get the place cleaned up and show it. However, when I go to enter and change locks etc... SHE is still there, calls the cops and claims residents rights. Turns out I can't charge her with trespassing because she has moved personal belongings into the house and is now considered a lawful resident. I can't change locks without giving her a key, I can't turn off power, she can get water turned on and I can't stop it. I had to go through full eviction proceedings to get her removed. Took me 40 days. She trashed the house and had every light in the house on and AC set at 70 during the whole time. Electric bill was over $500.00. Called the cops on me twice. Used the place as a "high" house.

You can do what you wish but I will never turn a blind eye if I ever have a similar situation and find out about an unauthorized guest and my lease now includes VERY specific clauses regarding "guests".

Vic

@Vic Caldwell

 And was that indeed the law? That if someone moves in their stuff they are automatically an occupant? The cops don't always know the law. I've once had a police officer tell me the law for the wrong county and I (politely) corrected him.

But @Lisa Wilson , has rent regularly been paid on time? Is the place kept up fairly well/clean? Do they get along with neighbors? Can this lone tenant afford the rent on their own income?

Nicole A., New Page LLC | [email protected] | 305‑537‑6252

If she gets a roommate, she is still inheritantly the one on the hook for any damages to the home as her name is on the legal document.  Your quarterly inspections should help mitigate severe damage as you can assess the condition of your asset regularly.  Personally, unless there were sleeping bags all over the place and little children crayon marks all over the walls, I'd turn a blind eye, with cautious awareness. 

813‑435‑8414

Originally posted by @Vic Caldwell :

I just had to deal with this in Texas. It was a NIGHTMARE. Tenant had a lease allowing 2 adults and 3 kids.( though only he lived in the house) Unknown to me he rented out a room to a co-worker. Shortly after, co-worker's new girlfriend moved in. Not long after they have a big fight (cops are called) and he leaves. Girlfriend stays. I find out about the cops being called from neighbours. I speak to tenant and get the whole story. I tell him she must go or go through application and lease process. Find out she has a serious drug conviction and tell tenant she doesn't meet standards and she must go. She causes a MAJOR incident and gets tenant arrested for domestic violence. I terminate lease. Next day after he posts bail tenant moves out. I think THEY have moved out and have elec put in my name so I can get the place cleaned up and show it. However, when I go to enter and change locks etc... SHE is still there, calls the cops and claims residents rights. Turns out I can't charge her with trespassing because she has moved personal belongings into the house and is now considered a lawful resident. I can't change locks without giving her a key, I can't turn off power, she can get water turned on and I can't stop it. I had to go through full eviction proceedings to get her removed. Took me 40 days. She trashed the house and had every light in the house on and AC set at 70 during the whole time. Electric bill was over $500.00. Called the cops on me twice. Used the place as a "high" house.

You can do what you wish but I will never turn a blind eye if I ever have a similar situation and find out about an unauthorized guest and my lease now includes VERY specific clauses regarding "guests".

Vic

 The most an unapproved occupant can get is tenant status as a month-to-month tenant.  But, whenever you evict anyone, you put "and any other occupants," etc., just in case.  I understand that you have to name everyone on the eviction who lives in the house, so just in case there is anyone else staying there, you put "all occupants" or Jane Doe and John Doe's 1 - 10, or something like that.

I was lucky to have been able to negotiate tenants out, so we never actually had to do an eviction through the courts.  But, I did learn that you should always include the possibility that there may be unknown occupants.

Sorry this happened to you.  That's a bummer.

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