What's a good way to word a rental agreement for this situation?

soozMay 19, 2007

I'm asking this for Martin, a friend of mine, and I also know all the parties involved.

Tenant #1, Martin--rents a bedroom in a private home. There is another tenant --Tenant #2--who rents the other bedroom. The owners live close, but not in the house so they rent only the bedrooms.

The problem is that Tenant #2 has a friend who is unemployed and was kicked out of his home by his wife, who apparently got tired of his mooching off her. This friend has been staying for at the house, day and night, on a daily basis, at the house where Martin rents a bedroom.

Because of the rental agreement, overnight guests are not permitted without advance permission of the owner (because this is a private home). This was specifically written into the agreement because Tenant #2 knows a lot of indigent people who are frequently homeless, and no one wanted the private home to become a flop house.

Well, Tenant #2's guest sleeps outside in his car--so he's not an overnight guest.

Martin is going to talk with the owners about adding something to the rental agreement to limit guests, as there is a new Agreement every year.

What wording would be effective in a rental agreement, specifically to limit how long a guest/visitor can stay? Martin says that Tenant #2's guest is there more than Martin is !!! Since this is a private home, I believe this can be done legally.

I know renters don't want to be limited as to who they can entertain, how often, and when, and as a former renter, I agree!... but again this IS a private home and not an apartment!

Tenant #2 is effectively providing a home for his guest, using the loophole of "he sleeps in his car" to circumvent things. What wording in a rental agreement would you feel would effectively stop this behaviour?


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My thinking is that whether the overnight guest stays in the house, in his car or pitches a tent in the back yard, he is still an overnight guest because he is on the property.
Why does Martin not discuss this with the landlord? Personally in Martin's shoes I'd prefer to see Tenant #2's lease not renewed as he seems to have a history of this sort of activity.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 2:46AM
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Here is a Washington Post article (a Q&A, see the first question at the top) on this topic. It includes a guest clause, leaving the burden of proof on the tenant who has invited the guest and leaving sole discretion up to landlord whether they buy the story or not ;) I once had a young couple who allowed a friend to visit 'on vacation'. I went back about 5 weeks later to check on a leaky faucet and friend was still there. I had to talk with them to get him out (liability was a big concern, or him doing damage and not having supplied any share of damage deposit, etc.) Within a month I was hit with an even more frightening scenario. A different tenant at a different house allowed a buddy to stay there while 'separated' from his wife. I found out about it when I stopped in to check on a repair and found an exposed stud in the area of the repair had been scorched black. I got some insane story involving an argument with the wife, too much alcohol and a blow torch. (I informed the tenant that not only was his buddy not welcome as a guest and had to go immediately, I didn't want to see him anywhere on the premises ever and if tenant had an issue with that he was welcome to find other living arrangements for himself as well.) Since then I use this is my leases "The premises shall be used soley as a private residence and occupancy shall be limited to __________". On the line I type each person's name, including all adults and minor children (even part-time custody). That way if I notice a visitor or 'hanger on' for more than a typical 'couple weeks vacation' I can remind tenants they are violating the occupancy agreement portion of the lease by having a party not on the lease occupying the premises. Another reason to have such a clause is because someone who has 'stayed' at a residence for a certain number of days can legally be considered as 'residing' there. Therefore, without a clause in place, getting them out of the premises requires legal maneuvers if they refuse to leave. With a clause in place, often the tenant will extricate the extended stay guest themselves. Most tenants don't want to risk losing the roof over their own head.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 7:31AM
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I do not understand the terminology that you use that your friend is renting in a "private home". The owners do not live there so he is not renting a room in a person's home.

The arrangement he has is a 'rooming house' arrangment where a person rents a room in a building, and has use of the common areas. Where I live these types of rentals must have a special license and inspections. I will bet that the owners of your friend's place, are not licensed to operate a rooming house.

Rooming housees have leases that usually spell out who may enter the property. An occassional guest in the common area who stops by to chat or to pick up their friend is OK. An overnight guest in the bedroom may be overlooked as long as it does not cause a disruption, like hogging the shared bathroom in the morning. These leases are different because it is completely different from a roommate situation as the other person did not pick who is going to live there and the lease is not co-signed with shared responsibility. Nor are they renting the whole property. There may be areas of the building that are 'off limits' to everyone who lives there like the basement or attic.

Your friend ahould persue the matter for his own safety. The owners have a right to define who may enter the property.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 9:13AM
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You state the rental agreement already provides that overnight guests are not permitted without advance permission of the owner. This gives the owner all the ammunition he needs to intervene and correct the situation. Has the owner given permission for tenant No. 2's guest to be in the house? Perhaps not. Or, if he has, maybe he doesn't know the extent of the problem. Martin should speak with the owner right away and explain the situation to him including the fellow sleeping in his car. If the owner is reasonable, he will have a conversation or more with tenant No. 2.

The only remedy for the car on the street situation is the local authorities. The property owner has no more right to what happens in the public street than you or me. Someone will have to call the police when they see the person in the car. Also, in some municipalities, there are overnight parking laws preventing cars from being parked between certain hours of the night without a permit. There is such a law in the city in which I live.

Good luck to Martin! I hope he prevails.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 2:29PM
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Thanks, everone! Martin spoke directly with the Owner and as this is a monthly rental situation, the owner is going to spell out things so all can have the quiet enjoyment (and privacy!) of the communal areas of the home.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 9:20PM
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Sleeping in his car may be illegal, even if it's on private property--but especially not on the street; martin could anonymously call the cops...

The best thing is to do what he actually did--to speak to the landlord. The landlord can't know about the problem until he's alerted. And surely the landlord would not want the situation as it exists; he's essentially got the added burden of another tenant, with no income coming from it. And, he may lose Martin, who perhaps is a more desirable tenant than the other person.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2007 at 1:01PM
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We flat out said no one lives in apartments without our ok.We rent to Mr & Mrs that better be whos there or rent goes up.We had one man & woman move thier son and wife and kids in basement.The home was not big enough for 4 adults 4 kids.so they moved.Wont allow it.We had an attorney write our contract so we were covered by law in all areas.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 1:14PM
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Glad to see that it looks like things will be ironed out for your friend and that he has a landlord that CARES about his property. Some don't.

If the landlord had a blase attitude about the whole matter I was going to suggest that your friend innocently ask the landlord "What does the licensing ordinence say about extra people on the property?" As I said before, I bet that they are not licensed. I my city they conduct stings on landlords who rent like this, without proper license and inspections. Its a $5000 fine I believe and/or they shut them down.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2007 at 1:43AM
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