Property Managers and Extended Tenant Guests

Guest or Squatter? How to Deal with Long-Term Visitors

It always behooves landlords and rental property owners to know about possible liabilities. One of the trickiest and most challenging to deal with is the issue of "long-term guests". This is a problem that can be almost impossible to address if you have not already created a plan prior to its occurrence.

For example, imagine that you have prepared a very firm application and screening process. You have required any adult living in one of your rentals to go through this process to ensure they can pay the rent, accept the terms and conditions, and do not pose a threat or problem to the other residents or neighbors. In fact, you or your property management company has even run a detailed background check looking for bad credit, evictions, and arrests.

However, within a few weeks of new residents moving in you receive complaints from neighbors that someone else is using parking spaces, coming into the unit at all hours, and seems to have moved in. What do you do?

You might get in touch with the renters and hear that it is a guest who is staying for a visit, and this now means you have to follow up on the issue.

Your follow-up is important because if that person becomes a long-term guest they can become a liability to you as the property owner. Imagine if this guest is staying with your tenants because their arrest record is preventing them from finding a place of their own. Is this a guest that you would want to overlook and let live in your rental for the next 8 months? We didn't think so.

It is always going to be in your best interest to document these events, ensure that this individual is aware of the terms on the lease, and inform them that they are now accountable to the terms of the lease as a guest. As always, doing this will take time, paperwork, and professionalism. If you don't have the available resources, this can be a good time to talk with a property manager as they can handle these problems for you in the future.

Temporary is Not the Same as Long-Term

Obviously, a visitor is not going to be listed on the lease. However, when days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, he or she has taken up permanent residence - and without your permission. There are legal time limits on such matters, and you can even stipulate in your lease how long someone can stay as a guest before they are classified as a long-term guest. Additionally, you can outline the notification process required for long-term guests as an extra line of defense.

In fact, we tell all of our owners that they should incorporate the concept of long-term guests into their lease contracts as a means of easily protecting themselves, their properties, and other renters. This allows for the greatest range of legal rights should a problem arise.

While someone might have a long-term guest for any number of reasons, and few of them are bad, there are always the stories of landlords discovering that a two-bedroom apartment has been converted into a living space for six people. At such times you need to take action, and the steps you or your property management company took ahead of time will be crucial for handling the problem.

What can you or your property management company do at such times? You can track the issue, alert the resident that he or she will need to have the guest screened according to the terms of the lease, and follow through with the eviction process if needed.

Rarely will you have to begin an eviction because of a long-term guest, but there is the possibility that it will need to happen. It is at this point that all of your preparation will come in handy because when you, or your property manager, goes to court you will have all the support you need to take your property back into your control.

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