As a landlord, you know that it’s your tenant’s right to have visitors. Maybe your tenant has family or a friend from out of town staying with them for an extended period of time.

In other cases, your renter may have found a roommate (oftentimes a boyfriend or girlfriend) who has simply started living with them. So how do you differentiate between a guest that is staying for an extended period of time, and someone who has moved in for good?

In this post, we explore the difference between a guest and a tenant, and signs that your tenant’s guest has overstayed their welcome.

1.      The Guest Has Stayed for a Long Period of Time

Your tenant has the right to have guests stay at their residence, but if your tenant’s guest is staying over every single night, then it might be time to have a conversation about rules regarding long-term guests.

You should have a clause in your Residential Lease that addresses how long a renter’s guest can stay before they become a tenant. For example, if a guest is staying for one consecutive month or more, then they will be added to the lease. Your jurisdiction may even have specific laws regarding tenant guests, so it’s important to consult a local attorney if necessary.

2.      The Guest Has Started to Pay Rent

If your tenant’s guest has started to contribute to the rent every month, you may assume that they are living on the premises. However, it’s also possible that your renter is experiencing difficult financial times and may just be getting assistance to pay rent from a friend or family member.

Of course, if you’ve noticed that your tenant’s guest seems to be hanging around the premises on a regular basis and they are paying some (or all) of the rent, then it is possible that they are living there as well. If this is the case, you’ll want to talk to your tenant about adding this person to their lease.

If you have concrete evidence that your tenant has violated the lease by allowing someone to move in without your consent, then an option is to serve them a Notice of Lease Violation. But it’s usually a good idea to discuss the situation with your tenant first and use the notice as a last resort.

3.      The Guest is Receiving Mail at the Property

Another sign that a guest has moved into your rental property is that they changed their mailing address to match your tenant’s. But keep in mind, it is also possible that your tenant’s guest is going through a transition period (like moving) and just needed somewhere to send their mail.

Once again, it’s a better idea to start a dialogue with your tenant to find out exactly what is going on, and only take further action if it’s needed.

4.      The Guest Parks Their Vehicle in Visitor Parking Daily

Perhaps one of the most obvious signs that your tenant’s guest might be living with them is if you notice the guest’s vehicle parked in visitor parking on a daily basis.

Parking rules for your rental property are usually up to you. If you’ve included information in your lease that describes how long a guest is allowed to park in visitor parking (usually it’s 48 or 72 hours max) and the guest leaves their vehicle there longer, it’s definitely worth looking into.

A good practice would be to require your tenant to register their guest’s vehicle (make, model, color, and license plate) with you or a private parking company so that you can keep track of guest vehicles and prevent unauthorized parking. This information also gives you the opportunity to ask your tenant additional questions about their guest, such as how long they are planning to stay.

When a Guest Becomes a Tenant

Although it’s not unusual for a tenant to have long-term guests, it’s important to establish rules in advance such as how long guests can stay, if your tenant needs to inform you when they have a guest staying with them, and what action you will take should your tenant break these rules.

If you take the time to establish clear a line of communication with your tenant and outline their responsibilities regarding guests properly, then it will be easier for you and your tenant to be honest and open with each other.

Posted by Lisa Hoffart

Lisa is an experienced writer interested in technology and law. She's been writing for LawDepot since 2017.