Drafting a Successful Tenant Guest Policy For Your Rental Property
Social interaction is an integral part of our lives and having guests come to our place is all fun and games. But the thought instantly becomes daunting when a tenant of yours invites their guest over, especially when it happens every now or then? Whether or not your tenant is a responsible person, feeling concerned about your property and your business is quite obvious.
Fear of getting your property damaged by your tenant`s guest, noise commotion disturbing other tenants, an overnight guest becoming a permanent roommate, excessive wear and tear, and the list goes on. You are getting the sense of risks. You wish, you can completely deny your tenant for having guests at your property. But neither it is ethical nor it is completely possible.
Why Landlords Should Have A Tenant Guest Policy at their Rental Property?
An enforceable tenant guest policy protects the landlord’s property and allows to be in a state of control if things take an unexpected turn. Further, when you have a clearly stated tenant guest policy, you inform your expectations to the tenants when having guests at your property. A tenant guest policy is a must and it helps to avoid all future conflicts with tenants.
Understanding the Key Points To a Successful Tenant Guest Policy
The tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment at your property. And, having guests over is the part of their quiet enjoyment. A landlord may prohibit guests at the property depending upon the provisions in the lease and what the state occupancy laws suggest. However, there is a gray area and in my view, putting complete restrictions is definitely not the right approach. Drafting a strong tenant guest policy is the key to a better business.
A successful Tenant Guest Policy must highlight these key points
- Can a Guest Stay over At Your Property or not?
- How long can a Tenant’s Guest Stay At Your Property?
- Responsibility of the Tenant when having guests at your property?
Can A Guest Stay Over At Your Property?
The more people occupy your space, the greater are the chances of wear and tear at your property. Allow guests at the property only if you have reasonable space for them to occupy. If not, simply restrict the tenants from having guests at your property.
In this regard, you must put a cap on how many guests or any guest for that matter can stay at your property or not. Currently, a minimum of 2 occupants per bedroom can comfortably occupy the space as per the federal occupancy standards.
So, depending upon the space of your rental property, decide yourself what cap on guests is appropriate for your property. If you have micro-housing units or single room type accommodation rentals where already two tenants are occupying the space, you can completely restrict guests. However, you may consider allowing visitors.
How long a Tenant’s Guest Can Stay At Your Property?
There must be a limit on the number of days when a tenant’s guest is welcomed at your property. Imagine a short-term guest becoming an unofficial tenant or your tenant creating a subletting situation. A guest overstaying at your property can cause you unwanted trouble. Better to prevent this before it happens.
In this regard, your tenant guest policy must have a limit on how many days maximum a guest can stay at your property. Landlords generally cap this period to no more than 14 days in a consecutive six-month period or 7 nights consecutively in a month. The guest staying more than this period will be considered a tenant and be required to add to the lease and assume all the responsibilities of the tenant.
Further, if for any valid reason the stay is longer than this period, you can require the tenants to have official approval from you. You can set up a long-term guest agreement with tenants for such cases. A long-term guest agreement sets guidelines for the guests/occupant that they have no tenancy rights or possession of the property. Also, you can bar the occupant from using the common area amenities like the gym, pool, laundry if needed.
However, if this guest wants the rights as the tenant or a considerably longer occupancy, you can consider signing a month-to-month agreement with this guest.
What are the Responsibility of the Tenants When They have Guests?
Your tenant guest policy must also underline the responsibilities of the tenant when they are having guests at your property. Guests and their acts are the responsibility of the tenant. And, if for any reason or due to the act of the tenant’s guest, there is a violation of the lease, you will evict the tenant.
The tenant or his guests must keep the landlord free from any kind of harm or liability except those occurring due to misconduct or willful intentions of the landlord. Imagine a guest accidentally starting a fire at your property. Now, who will be responsible for the guest’s actions? Clearly, the liability will fall on the tenant in this case.
“The guest will cover the damages to their personal belongings from Renters Insurance. But what about the damages to your rental property? Consider buying a Landlord Insurance”
However suppose, what if the guest slipped on a dilapidated staircase on your property and broke his leg? Though your tenant has never informed you about the broken stairs. But, this guest may try to hold you liable in this situation and sue for personal injury claims. To avoid such liability claims, your lease must have a tenant liability clause.
Landlord shall not be held liable for any damage or injury injury which may suffered by the Tenant`s person, property, his employees, or guests or any other individual in or about the Property premises, resulting or caused from electricity, water, fire, gas, steam, or rain which may leak or flow into any part of the Premises, or from the obstruction, leakage, or breakage other defects of sprinklers, pipes, wires, plumbing, air conditioning, appliances, lighting fixtures, electrical, mechanical systems, whether such injury, or damage is a result from the conditions existing upon Premises or on the other portions of the premise, Building or Project or from any other sources, other than the episode concluding as the result of Landlord’s misconduct, negligence or willful intentions.
Should Landlords Charge For Guests?
The motivation behind charging for tenant’s guests is understood. The guest will stay at your property, will use the utilities, and hence it will be an extra cost for the landlord. But a landlord should not charge for guests. Neither should you ask for any extra money from the tenant for their guests nor from the guests directly. Not only money, but you also should not charge them with anything, say with an equivalent service or something similar.
- Landlords Charging From Guests
When a landlord accepts money from the guest, he is allowing a guest to stay at the property. Technically, the guest becomes a tenant. This guest has now all the rights as your tenant has, which isn’t certainly an ideal situation for a landlord. Although, you haven’t entered into a written agreement with this guest. But accepting money enters you into a tenancy at will with the tenant.
- Landlords Charging Tenants For Their Guests
The tenant has a right to have guests at your property within the terms of your lease. But if you are considering charging tenants extra for their guests, it is not allowed. You have entered into a written lease agreement with the tenant with a specified rent. Charging more in rents is clearly a violation of the lease and the tenant can sue you.
However, if this guest intends to stay longer, you can require your tenant to have the guest added to the lease, and then you can charge accordingly.
The Bottom Line
The fear of tenants having guests at your property is real. But instead of Landlords completely denying guests, it is better to make enforceable provisions in your lease. The tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment at your property and by denying guests without a valid reason, you are risking yourself for getting sued by a tenant.
“Landlords often mistake signing a standard lease with a tenant. Instead, you should use a custom lease that is crafted as per your business needs and should be enforceable at the same time.
At Become Pro Landlord, we have partnered with Rocket Lawyer which provides landlords not only with the custom leases but all the legal documents that you need to run your business smoothly.”