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Landlord Newsletter - Unauthorized Occupants

The LPA Newsletter,
March 2005

Dear Fellow Landlord,

In this issue of The LPA Newsletter:
I hope you enjoy my latest article, "What Do I Do If... I Discover My Tenant Has Unauthorized Occupants?"

  • The latest Tenant Excuses for no paying rent
  • Landlord Do's and Don'ts ... concerning Tenant's Move-out
  • More Quotes for Success & Inspiration

    Please e-mail us if you have any questions or would like to add or share any material / information. I hope this month's newsletter finds you well and off to a successful landlording season.
    John Nuzzolese



    What Do I Do If...
    My Tenant Has Unauthorized Occupants?

    by John Nuzzolese

    Have you ever gone to your rental property only to have a stranger you donít recognize answer the door and ask you who you are as if you donít belong there? Well, itís happened to me and lots of other landlords.
    It kind of goes like this:

    The landlord rings doorbell: Ding Dong.
    Unauthorized Tenant in smelly dirty T-shirt with a beer in his hand opens door: Yeah, what do you want?
    Landlord: I just dropped by to talk to Mrs. Jones (tenant).
    Unauthorized tenant: Sheís not here. Who are you?
    Landlord: Iím the landlord. Who are you?
    Unauthorized tenant: I live here. Call back later. Sheíll be home later.

    How do you feel knowing you have someone in your rental property that you didnít even agree to let live there?

    It is not as uncommon as one might think, and it may not always be noticeable, but you must be on the lookout for unauthorized occupants. Many leases provide a clause to prohibit the tenant from allowing unauthorized residents, the way mine does:

    Occupancy by guests staying over _7_ days will be a violation of this provision. In the event any other people occupy and live in this rental, in any capacity, without Owner's written consent, it will constitute a breach of this lease and it is agreed that the rent will be increased $500.00 per person per month, and the Owner at his sole option may terminate this lease.

    But the lease isnít always enough to deter it from happening. But it can help give you the means to solve the problem, because with the clause protecting you in the lease, you have the legal right to enforce the lease.

    You can enforce the lease in 3 ways:

    1. You can allow the unauthorized occupant to become an authorized resident if he is cooperative. You can do this by:
      • Giving him a rental application so you can screen him like any other tenant
      • If you approve him, have him sign the lease that the original tenants signed, making them all 100% responsible for the agreement.
    2. Lease Violation Notice. You can notify the tenant(s) of their lease violation, giving them the required notice period to cure their default. I make sure I remind the tenants of the penalty fee for unauthorized occupants that they agreed to in the lease agreement. That alone gives you some bargaining power. I also include a Tenant's Notice of Intention to Vacate Form along with the Violation Notice, just to show the tenants that Iím not afraid to lose them.
    3. In the event your lease does not provide for an unauthorized tenant situation, you may want to use a Lease Update Ė Change of Terms Notice form to modify your lease agreement

      It is important to be able to take a tough written stance in these situations. The tenant has to believe you will stop at nothing to rectify the problem by legal eviction or to make them conform to the rules. Never tell the tenant or hint to the tenant that you are afraid or donít want to go to court. If they suspect you are afraid, they will take the upper hand and use it to their advantage. Pretend you love to go to court. That you love to watch your attorney in action. I do love to watch my attorney in action. I love to call the tenantís bluff and take the upper hand. I love to evict a bad tenant FAST! It doesnít happen often, but there are times when we must take fast decisive action.

      By the way, always be sure to have a clause in your lease that covers your attorneyís fee and court costs at the tenantís expense.

      In many cases, tenants who bring in unauthorized tenants are the type of people who donít always go by the rules. That is why you should always be prepared to begin an eviction at any time.

      I always say, ďThe best way to avoid tenant problems is to avoid problem tenants.Ē

      Printer Friendly Version of this Article


      Landlord Do's & Don'ts

      What The LPA says you should do and what you shouldn't do about:

      Tenant's Move-Out

      DO DON'T
      • tell the tenants that they will not be getting their security deposit back- let them see that on the Security Settlement Statement.
      • return any security deposit until after tenant vacates and the rental has been inspected for damages


      Rent Excuses...

      Excuse of the Day for 2/27/05:

      "Baby needed an emergency hysterectomy. It could be a while till we have the rent."

      "Baby" is their attack dog that I never gave permission for. - Mike, M., Boston, MA

      Excuse of the Day for 2/23/05:

      "I'm not going to pay my rent until you stop using your computer or let me use it too."

      Sometimes we become landlords because we don't know any better! I allowed a young adult to stay in my home after he was kicked out of his parents home. I was laid off at that time, and since he talked me into letting him stay and pay rent past the first 15 days "to help me financially as a way to thank me", now I have to get a lawyer to perform the eviction proceedings. I'm joining the LPA to help keep this from catching me off guard again. - William G.

      Excuse of the Day for 2/22/05:

      "I thought I was supposed to pay you at the end of the year in full."

      WHAT IS THIS MORON TALKING ABOUT? I went over the whole lease with them. He is playing dumb or he's really got a screw loose. - Steve S., NY

      Excuse of the Day for 2/19/05:

      "I have company from out of town staying with us a couple of weeks. You know how it is."

      Yes I do. The 3 day pay rent or quit notice has been served.- Robert, San Diego, CA

      Excuse of the Day for 2/17/05:

      "I didn't do any of that damage. My kids did all that. You know, how kids are? Kids will be kids."

      Ok, I have kids, and not once have they broken any windows OR torn out any screens! Thank goodness for big deposits and exterminators, a dumpster and the bug doctor and my place will be on its way to a more deserving tenant in no time! - Lori in St. Paul, MN



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