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Handling Unauthorized Tenants in Delaware County

Unauthorized tenants can be a struggle within the property management industry. As a landlord, you need to understand who is considered an unauthorized tenant and how to deal with that tenant. Follow these tips on how best to handle this frustrating problem and how to avoid it.

What is an Unauthorized Tenant?

unauthorized tenants delaware county pa

An unauthorized tenant is precisely as it sounds. They are tenants living in your property who are not on the lease. There are different types of unauthorized tenants that we will discuss below. A tenant must formally apply for residency and sign a lease if they plan to live there for more than a short-term stay or help financially.

The trouble generally starts when tenants illegally rent or sublet their units without landlord permission. The key to being able to evict the unauthorized tenant and your current tenant is to prove that they are violating their lease. This is why a well-written lease is key to avoiding unauthorized tenants. We will discuss more about the contract and other tips for avoiding these tenants below.

Who is Considered an Unauthorized Tenant?

  1. Subletter: This relatively common situation 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 in your property.
  2. Extended Guest: They have a friend or family member above the age of 18 living with them for longer than the length of a typical visit. If they have a long-term visitor who is contributing to rent, this is an unauthorized occupant. If they’re an out-of-state friend or family member who is visiting for a long time without contributing to rent, they still should inform you, but they aren’t considered a tenant.
  3. Squatter: A squatter is an unauthorized tenant refusing to leave the unit. Sometimes they are a homeless individual breaking in and inhabiting the home. Still, more commonly, they are tenants who refuse to leave after receiving a court-ordered eviction, or their lease has ended.

These are the most typical examples of unauthorized tenants. Unauthorized tenants come in all different forms, so you’ll need to be prepared to handle those circumstances as they arise.

How Do I Handle an Unauthorized Tenant? 

There are a few options for handling unauthorized tenants, ranging from minor fixes to more severe action. Options for managing an unauthorized tenant:

  • Explain to the tenant and unauthorized tenant they either need to add the second occupant to the lease or 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 documented communication reflecting that you explained the situation to the lease-holder and how to remedy the issue
  • Still won’t move out? Call the sheriff to carry out the eviction.

Tips to Avoid Unauthorized Tenants

  1. Quality Tenant Screening: 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.
  2. Well-Written Lease: Always have a well-written and legally binding lease that covers you in the state in which you operate. Make sure to include a clause that holds the tenant responsible for court fees.
  3. Communication: Communication is vital. Always check in with residents and find out if they understand the policies or need help revising their lease in the event they have a significant other or friend staying there long-term. Sometimes the unauthorized occupant is just the result of a misunderstanding.
  4. Follow Through: You will have to evict a tenant who doesn’t comply with your request to add their additional tenant to the lease or move out. Always follow through and hold tenants accountable to the contract they signed at move-in.

Are you a Delaware County landlord struggling with unauthorized tenants? Contact Bay Property Management Group Delaware County! Our team of highly skilled property managers has the experience to get rid of unauthorized tenants and effectively manage your investment property.