Renting out a property means dealing with different concerns regarding your tenant. A contract is one way of controlling those problems, and having your tenant agree with your terms and conditions will lessen the problems that you may encounter along the way. When a tenant signs your lease agreement, you may hold them liable when they violates anything in your agreement. Sounds simple, right? However, it is inevitable that your tenant will have guests over – like family or friends. In that case, when problems arise, you cannot hold undocumented guests liable in case anything bad happens.
What is the difference between a tenant and a guest? A tenant is the person who is bound to an agreement with the landlord to pay for a property or an estate in exchange for its occupancy.
The type of occupancy is temporary, depending on the terms of the contract. When your tenants, however, have other people staying in your property, and are not bound to the contract, they are considered as guests. In effect, anyone who isn’t included in the lease is considered a guest.
As a landlord, you must know how to deal with your tenant’s guests. After all, they are staying in your property. Often times, guests become problematic when they become what we call ‘long term guests’.
Who are Long Term Guests?
Naturally, your tenant may invite friends or family over and at first, it may seem like a harmless thing. But when guests stay longer than usual, they become “long term guests” and may posit some real problems on you.
When do regular guests become long term guests? Long term guests are qualified as such if they stay with your tenant for a long period of time. They may be your tenant’s girlfriend or boyfriend, sister, brother, or any family member, or friend who is staying over in your property.
You may wonder, why is this a problem? Initially, some of these guests may have planned to stay over for a day or two. After which, they extended to a week, to a month, and before you know it, they are already living in your house. Since they are not in your lease agreement, they are free of liability and responsibility.
Another problem that concerns long term guests is the fact that these people did not go through the stringent screening process. You don’t know if they can be a nuisance to other residents or neighbors, or worse if they actually pose a threat or use your property for illegal or unlawful activities. Here are the kinds of long term guests that you should look out for.
5 Kinds of Long Term Guests
1. A family member
If you are renting your house or property to a college student, fresh out of his parents’ home, you may encounter the visiting parent or sibling. On the other hand, you may be renting out to a retired couple who have some of their children visiting them for extended periods of time. Other times, a guest may be a sick relative that needs to be tended to. These situations are certainly something that you, as landlord, should be aware of.
2. A girlfriend or boyfriend
The occasional visits of girlfriends and boyfriends are not all that uncommon. However, when they stay for too long and are actually living in your property, using your facilities or having their mail delivered to your address, then it becomes a subject of concern.
3. A constant stay-over friend
You often see this scenario: an unemployed or underemployed friend just crashing over for a few days until they get things together. It may be a recently heartbroken or divorced friend that needs comforting or a friend visiting from another city and staying in for an indefinite period of time. Whenever this happens, try to see how long the friend stays. If you feel that the friend is turning into a resident, confront your tenant politely, and ask if the guest wants to be included in the lease agreement as a sublet or approved occupant.
4. A hired helper
In some cases, you may encounter tenants with either a babysitter or a hired household help. Some elderly tenants may have caregivers or nurses that stay over for a long period of time.
5. An undeclared sublet
A sublet or a subtenant is anyone who is occupying a room or a part of your house that is other than your tenant. You may ask, why is this a problem? Since subletting means letting another person live in your property, with the exclusive tenancy of the said room or space, then essentially they should automatically be accountable to the landlord.
In some cases, however, the tenant does not declare their sublets, and this can bring about problems to you in the future. A common instance is when the sublet damages a part of your house. Who will be responsible for the damage? A problem like this will be avoided when sublets are declared and are made to sign the lease agreement.
Another problem is when your tenant leaves unexpectedly, leaving the unlisted sublet to pay the rent. In this case, you, as a landlord, do not have the right to collect rent from a person not listed in your lease agreement.
Tips for Dealing with Long Term Guests
Dealing with long term guests means you have additional people to consider regarding ordinances and utilities. It also means that there are more people who will use and occupy the premises that you own. An even more important concern is that these guests are essentially strangers to you. You have not run a background check on them to see if they have criminal records or bad credits. As the owner of a property, one of your main concerns should be keeping your property safe and free from damage.
State a clear guest policy in your contract
The problem of long term guests can be addressed easily when you have a clear policy in your contract. As they say, prevention is better than cure. Preventing future problems will be easier if you discuss the rules with your tenant even before they occupy your house.
When preparing the tenancy agreement, you should already be aware of the number of tenants who will occupy your house. The number of residents will then be listed on the agreement. Additionally, you have to state the number of guests that you allow to stay in your house and the exact number of days or weeks they can stay as guests. Inform your tenant that they need your permission and a written consent from you when letting in long term guests. You have the prerogative to raise the rent if your tenant allows long-term guests to occupy your house.
Strictly enforce your terms and conditions
Your terms and conditions do not mean anything if you do not enforce them. It is important for you to build a good and cordial relationship with your tenant. However, be wary of becoming too lenient. In the beginning, you may think that this will barely cause any trouble but in the long run, unexpected problems may arise. Including the guests in your lease agreement and listing them as tenants or occupants can protect you in case your original tenants decide to run away or abandon your house.
Follow up on your tenants from time to time
Communicating with your tenant is another way to check if they are following your lease agreement. Remember to be polite and to make sure you do not breach their right to privacy. Some tenants may feel harassed or violated when you badger them over their guests. On the other hand, some tenants do not realize that their guests have already been staying in for too long and you need to be firm when you impose your rules regarding long-term guests.
If you know that they are violating your lease agreement, it is best to immediately talk to them to resolve the matter. If you can prove that the guests are indeed staying long term, remind your tenant of the agreement and hand out the resident application forms to the guests. If your tenant denies this, you can demand for the full name of the guests and their respective addresses.
Give your tenant a warning when necessary
In some instances, you may encounter tenants that let in long term guests and keep this as a secret from you. In this case, you have to issue a warning to your tenant. If the warning fails to deliver the message, and you can clearly prove that the guests have overstayed the legal time limit, you can already issue an eviction notice.
Read More for Tips to Become an Effective Landlord
When you are renting out your property, it is inevitable that you will encounter guests of different sorts. This is normal considering your tenants will get visits from family and friends. The process of handling long term guests is tedious but certainly necessary when your property is concerned. On the other hand, you do not want animosity between you and your tenant.
Remember that there is always a proper way to deal with long term guests without too much hassle on both parties. Long term guests do not automatically cause problems but they need to be documented so you can still have control over your property.