Property Management Blog

How to Deal With An Unathorized Occupant

Property Management Blog

You signed a lease with someone and so far, they’ve been a great tenant but maybe you’ve noticed some additional belongings at the property, or you have a neighbor or handyman who said it seems like someone else is living there as well. What do you do?

Who is an unauthorized occupant?

First, you must have a definition for what makes someone an unauthorized occupant. An unauthorized occupant is not listed in the lease so does not have permission to live at the property. Do you consider a guest for a night or a week an unauthorized occupant? Probably not. But at what point does someone change over from being a guest? The lease should spell out the difference and your state, local laws, or community may also have guidelines for the length of time a guest can stay before they become an occupant. Your lease is between you and the tenants who are authorized to live at the property. 

What should you care about unauthorized occupants?

If there haven’t been any issues, why should you care or do anything? Maybe it was an honest oversight and the person just started staying more frequently moving more stuff in over time until they started living at the property more than they weren’t. Other times, it’s an intentional way of moving in someone who would not have been approved otherwise. Could be because the person doesn’t have good credit or a job.

While the tenants named on the lease are ultimately responsible since they are the ones that signed the lease, it still creates an issue since sometimes tenants don’t know what they’re getting into and the longer the person stays and the more people are aware and do nothing, the more rights they may have. 

For example, let’s say your tenant is single and starts dating someone who eventually moves in. They break up but he refuses to move out, so she does. She’s on the lease and responsible but now has another place to pay for since she’s no longer residing at your rental. Which one do you think is a higher priority if she can only pay rent at one place? Plus, you’re stuck trying to evict the ex-boyfriend she left behind.

What do you do about an unauthorized occupant? 

You can try speaking to the tenant and if the person is qualified and it was a simple oversight, he or she can apply, get approved, and be added to the lease. If the unauthorized occupant refuses to apply and continues to stay at the property, then you may need to start an eviction. If you have a good tenant, this is usually enough to either convince the unauthorized occupant move or they may both end up moving.

While your tenant moving and potentially breaking the lease is usually not what you want, it’s typically better than allowing an unknown person to stay at your rental home without permission since it can cause issues down the road. 

This is also why it’s very important to screen thoroughly and get good tenants who are more likely to care about abiding by the rules of your lease than tenants who don’t care.

If you need help finding good tenants or have any additional questions about unauthorized occupants, give us a call.

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