There is a thin line separating who should be considered a guest in your Pikesville rental property and who constitutes an actual residing tenant. And, if you are not careful, guests that overstay their welcome in your rental property can quickly turn into serious liabilities if they become more tenant-like than guest-like.
In order to protect you and your Pikesville investment property, and remain a successful landlord, it is important you take proactive steps when it comes to handling long-term guests in your rental.
If you are not sure what these steps are, however, that’s ok.
Today, we will explain exactly how to handle a long-term guest in your rental property, so that you do not fall victim to an overstaying guest who should really be treated as a tenant.
What Constitutes a Long-Term Guest?
How do you know if someone is in long-term guest territory?
The easy answer is this: anyone who has signed a legally-binding lease contract with you is considered a tenant. Anyone who has not signed a lease agreement with you is considered a guest while in the property.
However, what about those instances in which your tenant allows a guest to stay in your rental property for long periods of time?
Some example situations include:
- Your tenant’s college student son/daughter comes home for the summer or drops out and “moves home”
- An elderly grandmother moves back in with her child (your tenant), because she can no longer care for herself
- A boyfriend or girlfriend sleeps over most days/nights of the week
- Hired help, such as a nanny, lives on the property
This is where the line defining a “tenant” and a “long-term guest” begins to get hazy.
While guests are certainly allowed to visit your tenant for days at a time, how do you prevent a long-term guest from becoming a tenant that is unaccountable on the lease agreement?
To start, you can begin recognizing the signs that your Pikesville tenant’s guest may be turning into a tenant that is not on the lease agreement:
- The guest begins to pay rent
- Mail is delivered to the property in the guest’s name
- More nights than not, the guest sleeps over
- Pets, furniture, or other large personal belongings of the guest have been moved into the property
Next, you can take one of the biggest pieces of advice any property management company or successful landlord can give you when it comes to handling long-term guests.
Consider any guest at your rental property a tenant if they take up residence without permission from either you or your property management company, no matter what.
Typically, though every state differs, a guest that resides in your rental property for a period of 7, 14, or 30 (or more) days is labeled a long-term guest. With these guidelines in mind, it is important you outline in your lease provisions what you consider a long-term guest, and after what period of time it is mandated your tenant inform you that a long-term guest will be staying longer than the allowed time.
Some additional examples of long-term guests include:
- A friend who has recently lost his job and needs a place to crash
- A family member on an extended vacation
- Retired parents that stay for months at a time while visiting
- A subletter your tenant signed a contract with, without your knowledge
- Anyone renting a room from your tenant
Since there are several scenarios in which a “visiting” guest can turn into a long-standing tenant in your Pikesville rental property, it is crucial you understand how to handle this before it gets out of hand.
4 Ways to Handle Long-Term Guests in Your Pikesville Rental Property
1. Draft an Airtight Lease Agreement
Making sure your Pikesville lease agreement includes a provision addressing the issue of long-term guests in your rental home is the key to preventing any issues from cropping up. Be clear about how long a guest may stay at your rental property without permission from you.
Next, outline when permission must be received from you in order for a guest to stay longer than the allotted guest time period.
If you are unsure as to how to draft a lease agreement with long-term guest provisions, contact your local property management company, Bay Management Group, to help you. We are experienced in all things rental property related, and are knowledgeable about all current federal, state, and local laws that may affect the handling of long-term guests in your rental property.
2. Prevent Subletting
Subletting your rental property as though it is a bed-and-breakfast can become a dangerous situation for everyone involved.
While your tenant may feel that allowing people to “rent” your rental property from them for a few nights here and there is harmless, the truth is you are at risk for major liability concerns, should anything bad happen.
If you want to avoid this situation all together, again, draft a clear lease agreement forbidding the subletting of your rental, for any purposes.
3. Stay Involved
One way to become a successful landlord is to stay involved in what is happening at your rental home. Whether this means you, or your property management company, conduct regular inspections, periodic drive-bys, or personal visits to drop off something your tenant may need; you need to know what is going on in your property.
If you notice that there is an extra person that seems to be staying at your rental for more than a few days, be diligent about finding out the following:
- Who the guest is, and what relation they have to your tenant
- Why the guest is at your property
- How long the guest plans on staying
From there, make sure to regularly check on your property to ensure no lease violations are occurring. If, by chance, you realize that this “guest” has overstayed, take action.
Grab a tenant application and have your tenant’s guest fill it out so that they can be legally added to the lease agreement after a thorough tenant screening. This shifts the liability from you to the newly residing tenant.
4. Be the Boss
When your tenants agree to lease your rental, they sign a legally binding contract that holds them to follow certain rules and regulations. If you find out that your tenant has violated the long-term guest provision, you must put your foot down immediately, and serve the proper consequences:
- Provide written warnings, should neighboring people make complaints about parking violations, noise, excessive damage, and improper use of community amenities such as the pool, gym, or laundry equipment.
- Start the eviction process with your property management company, even if your tenant is not at fault.
In order to avoid your own legal troubles, it is your responsibility to make your original tenant responsible for his or her guests at all times. This is especially true for those guests that are bordering on becoming tenants of your rental property.
It is not unusual to expect that your Pikesville tenants will have guests at your rental. In fact, it is not unusual to think that oftentimes, these guests may stay a few nights. However, as a property owner looking to protect an important asset like a rental property, it is best to treat all long-term guests just as you would any other lease violation, if they overstay their welcome as per the lease agreement.
If you are in the Pikesville area and need help drafting a lease agreement that includes provisions regarding long-term guests in your rental property, get in touch with Bay Management Group today. Not only will we help you with your lease agreement, we can help with tenant screening, routine inspections, maintenance requests, and any legal troubles that may arise out of an overstaying long-term guest.