Unauthorized tenants can be a struggle within the property management industry. As a landlord, understanding what is an unauthorized tenant, how to deal with that tenant, and tips for avoiding this issue is vital. Read on to learn how to handle unauthorized tenants in your Delaware County rental property.
What is an Unauthorized Tenant?
An unauthorized tenant is precisely what it sounds like. It is a tenant living in your property that is not on the lease. There are different types of unauthorized tenants that we will discuss below. A tenant must ask permission and add a tenant to the lease if they plan to live there for more than a short-term stay or help financially. When tenants don’t tell landlords or illegally rent/sublet their unit, that is where the trouble starts. The key to being able to evict the unauthorized tenant and your current tenant is to prove they are violating their lease. This is why a well-written lease is a key to avoiding unauthorized tenants. We will discuss more tips to prevent these tenants below.
Examples of Unauthorized Tenant
- Subletter: This circumstance is relatively common. It occurs when a tenant sublets their apartment or home without the approval of the landlord. This is how unscreened and potential “trouble tenants” end up on the property.
- Long-stay family or friend: They have a friend or family member above the age of 18 living with them more than a visit. If they have a long-term visitor that is contributing to rent, this is an unauthorized occupant. An out of state friend or family member visiting for an extended time without paying rent, isn’t considered a tenant. However, they still should inform you.
- Squatter: A squatter is an unauthorized tenant refusing to leave the unit. Sometimes it is the result of a homeless individual breaking in and inhabiting the home. However, almost always, it is a tenant not moving out even after the court told them to.
These are three of the primary examples of unauthorized tenants. Of course, there are different circumstances and other unauthorized tenants that may arise. Regardless, you will need to know how to handle those situations and try to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
How to Handle Unauthorized Tenants
There are a few options for how to handle unauthorized tenants, and they range from small to more severe consequences and actions. Options for managing an unauthorized tenant:
Explain to the tenant and unauthorized tenant they either need to add the second occupant to the lease. Another option is to move-out and pay related early move-out fees.
- Serve them with a lease violation letter and fine.
- File for eviction with the local court
What if the Tenant Won’t Move Out?
- Go to eviction court with proof of the unauthorized tenant as well as communications in which you explained to the tenant how to add them to the lease.
- Still won’t move-out? Call the sheriff as the next step to have them forcibly removed from the property.
Avoid Unauthorized Tenants with These Tips
- Good screening process: Always screen tenants and have an in-depth screening process in place. The screening process should verify income, look into criminal and credit history as well as prior rental history.
- Well-written lease with lawyer fees accounted for “just in case”: Always have a well-written and legally binding contract. It must state in case eviction court takes place, the tenant is responsible for that cost.
- Communication: Communication is critical. Always check in with residents and find out if they understand the policies. They will need help revising their lease if they have a significant other or friend staying long-term. Sometimes the unauthorized occupant is a misunderstanding.
- Following through: After warning an unauthorized tenant to move-out or include in the lease, if they don’t listen, legally evict them. Always follow through on the consequences you warned them about. Otherwise, you will be known as a pushover in the industry and to prospects (the word can get around quickly).
It can be a complicated process dealing with an unauthorized occupant in your Delaware Co rental property. A trusted and professional Delaware County property management company can guide you while protecting your best interests. When in doubt, reach out to Bay Property Management Group Delaware County to help with unauthorized tenants and the entire leasing process.