Rental properties come with a variety of risks and situations a landlord must deal with. One of those happens to be unauthorized tenants in your property. If you do not want to create more of a legal hassle then it already is, understanding your responsibility is vital. Read on as we discuss what defines these occupants, how to avoid them, and how to get rid of unauthorized tenants.
What is an Unauthorized Tenant?
There are many types of occupants and, therefore, several different types of unauthorized tenants. An unauthorized occupant is any person who is staying in the property but not authorized to do so by a rental agreement. For example, a lawful tenant who moves in their significant other not listed on the lease, that significant other is now an unauthorized occupant. These tenants can present several problems for you as the landlord.
- Damages: While a tenant is responsible for losses caused by “visitors,” it can be hard to hold unauthorized occupants accountable.
- Lost Rent: Unauthorized occupants are not on the lease and did not sign to be responsible for the rent. So, if the tenant leaves and the unauthorized person does not, evicting them can be time-consuming and costly. Thus, rendering the property unrentable in the meantime.
- Added Frustration: The unauthorized occupants have not seen or agreed to the lease or the rules of your property. That means they can violate these rules easily, causing frustration for your other tenants and yourself. Not to mention potential code violations.
What to Do When You Discover Unauthorized Occupants
Unfortunately, even with all the precautions and due diligence on your part, situations of unauthorized tenants do arise. When they do, they can be one of the toughest forms of evictions to win. Therefore, to give yourself the best chance of success, follow these tips below.
- Talk to The Tenant: The first step you can take is to remind the tenant of the terms of their lease by talking with them. A proper contract should have clauses regarding long-term guests. So, if you can, find out all you can about the additional occupant, such as how long they will be staying and their contact information. Whether you are successful or not, this sets a precedent with the tenant letting them know you are willing to enforce the lease and will not look the other way.
- Send a Fix or Quit Notice: This is the first step to the eviction process. If the tenant does not respond to your verbal request for the removal of the unauthorized occupant, this is your next step. Depending on the rules of your state, you may be able to evict just the unlisted occupant, or you may need to evict both them and the tenant.
- Pursue Eviction: If verbal warnings and formal notice does not work, pursuing eviction proceedings is the only way to remove the unauthorized occupant. The process for the unlisted tenant is similar to a standard eviction; however, the reason for eviction is a lease violation.
How to Avoid Unauthorized Tenants in Your Investment Property
As a landlord, there are things you can do to prevent unauthorized tenants in your rental property. Understanding the steps you can take to protect your investment is your best chance at avoiding disputes. Check out these tips below.
- Develop a Well-written Lease: Your rental lease needs to state all guidelines thoroughly and clearly for the tenant. Before they sign, review key points with the applicant and make sure they understand their responsibilities. When preparing the rental lease you want to use for your rentals, have it reviewed by a legal professional to ensure legal enforceability. As long as your expectations are clear from the start, it is tough for the tenant to dispute them. This will come in handy if you need to gid rid of unauthorized occupants.
- Cultivate Tenant-Landlord Relationships: An absent landlord or property manager gives tenants the impression things can slide. Instead, establish a healthy tenant/landlord relationship with open lines of communication with your tenants. This not only lets them know you care about them, but also that you are aware of things going on at the property. Therefore, if tenants are aware you are willing to enforce the lease, they may be less likely to break the rules.
Rental properties inevitably come with some risks, including unauthorized tenants. Understanding what defines these occupants, how to avoid them, and how to get rid of unauthorized tenants is essential to your success as a landlord. If you are prepared from the start with a great lease, you are well on your way. Do you need a stress-free way to handle all tenant issues that arise? Reach out to an experienced rental management firm today.