You've rented to a tenant(s) and things are going along well. They are paying rent and utilities and there seems to be no problems. Until you hear from the neighbors that someone else, not any of your tenants has started staying over night. Their car is parked out front and the neighbors have seen their dog as well. You may even go so far as to schedule an inspection on short notice to look at the situation yourself. You have an unauthorized tenant in your rental. What do you do? This is such a common situation!
Unauthorized occupants/tenants can present a variety of problems to the rental housing provider. You can end up with unauthorized pets that cause damage and additional people can cause extra wear and tear on the rental or just cause extra damage. Also, you don't know who these additional occupants are as people! Your tenant might be a nice, employed person but their roommate could be a bum. It's important to know who is staying in your rental.
Guest Policies and Roommates
When the tenancy begins, you'll want to let your new tenant know what the policy is on guests and new roommates. Most members of RHAWA have a policy of guests in the rental for 14 days in any 3 month period. People that stay over your stated guest policy can trigger a lease violation which can result in a 10 Day Comply or Vacate Notice. Making sure that your tenant understands the policy in advance will reduce headaches. If there are issues with guest parking or other problems, let the tenant know about those as well. Don't forget to reinforce the fact that guests have to follow all the same policies and that ultimately, the tenant is responsible for their guests. If you allow additional roommates, let your tenant know. They may want to share costs with friends or get in a relationship where having an additional person is helpful to them. If you aren't open to it at all, let them know that upfront.
Keep Up Those Lines of Communication
This is an area where good landlord-tenant communications are key. If you can create a good working relationship where the tenant is comfortable coming and talking to you about situations and problems with the rental, as well as the potential new roommate, then you can screen them and approve them instead of having them just start living in your income property. Real estate investment is a people business first and foremost. Make sure that you are able to talk with your tenant about moving someone new in. If someone new is going to move-in, make sure to have them sign a Roommate Addendum or at least add them as an unauthorized occupant on both copies of your lease.
Confront the Problem Directly
If you have an unauthorized occupant and your tenant has not sought approval from you for them, the best thing to do is to confront the tenant directly. You can do this through any method you usually communicate with the tenant, although you might find that an in-person conversation is helpful. Remind them of the guest policy and roommate policy and that if this person is going to stay they need to be screened, approved, and sign the Roommate Addendum or be added as an unauthorized occupant.
Unauthorized occupants can be a problem in your rental but it doesn't have to be huge problem. With a little communication and some direct interaction with your tenant, you can stop these situations before they get out of control. If worse comes to worse, issue a 10 Day Comply or Vacate Notice to the tenant. If they don't come into compliance with the lease, you can begin the eviction process.