It is common for tenants to have some guests come and stay from time to time. While most landlords do not require tenants to provide them with notice of their guests, there is a concern over a guest moving into the property. How long can a tenant have a guest? Understanding when it goes from a visit into a person living there can be tricky. Here is a guide to help you understand the difference between a guest and a new tenant.

Guests and Tenants

The main issue that arises is when you notice the guest starts acting like your tenant. Are they asking you to do certain things for their property? Do they use the facilities and other things you provide only for your tenants? A guest can be a concern if they begin to act like a tenant as they could cause issues that cause problems for other tenants. For example, what happens if they are home in the middle of the day and accidentally start a fire that burns down several homes? Is the guest listed on your insurance policy? There is a good chance that you could end up dealing with expensive costs as the insurance company may not cover all of the costs because they were not considered a “legal” tenant. Any adult that is living in the property needs to be on the lease or else you have no legal accountability for this individual.

Examples of a Guest

  • Someone staying on the weekends once and awhile with family members or friends
  • A friend, family member, or worker who is visiting or a few days or weeks
  • A partner that visits during daytime hours
  • Daytime only Nanny (or worker that visits during daytime but never resides overnight)

Examples of a Tenant

  • Someone that lives on the property for several weeks or months
  • Someone that moves in with the tenant (elderly parents and college-aged children commonly fall into this category)
  • A live-in Nanny or Au Pair

When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?

While we have discussed several examples of tenants and guests, it can be hard to identify when this shift occurs. If you notice the guest starts paying rent, or they begin dropping off a check, you may want to ask them if they have moved in permanently. Some landlords charge more for new tenants, while others simply need to know so they can place them on the lease and insurance forms.

A guest that starts receiving mail at the property is another one that shows you need to discuss their situation with them. If you notice their vehicle is always there or they stay overnight often, you need to discuss their living arrangements for the lease or rental agreement. Guests that bring their pets and move them into the property or guests that start moving furniture in are considered a tenant.

What Should You Do?

If you feel that a guest is now living there with your tenant, you need to make the decision to talk to them and add the new person to the lease. It is best to do this in a timely manner so you do not have issues with any insurance claims that could occur.

Some landlords are hesitant to confront their tenants about their guests. While it can be uncomfortable, the lease agreement needs to indicate the new tenant. Some landlords will increase the rent rate to accommodate the new tenant. If you do not allow new tenants, you will need to contact your original tenant to discuss the situation. You can send them a lease violation notice and threaten to terminate the lease at this point.

How long can a tenant have a guest? It is up to your professional judgment to determine what you believe is correct. Have candid conversations with your tenants when they sign their lease agreement so they clearly know what is not allowed with guests. If they do not want to increase their rent, you do need to let them know the new individual will need to pay for the additional costs or you will need to terminate the lease.