How to Handle Rogue Tenants and Long-Term Guests

Written on June 21, 2014 by , updated on April 13, 2015

Rogue Tenants

Anyone living in my rental property, who is legally an adult, must be listed on and sign the lease.

It’s a simple rule that I always follow, and it has never steered me wrong.

Rogue Tenants

This is going to sound harsh, but I don’t really care if it’s just a college kid, home for the summer, or an elderly woman who’s moving back in with her daughter. I’ve heard all the excuses in the book, but it all comes downs to liability and my ability to collect rent.

I refer to long-term guests as “rogue tenants.”

Rogue tenants are individuals who have taken up residence in my property without approval or permission, and perhaps even changed their mailing address to receive mail at my rental property.

Liability and Accountability

If they are not on the lease, then they are not subject to the terms and conditions therein, and I cannot hold them accountable for rent. That’s a big problem.

Most of the time, they move-in under the assumption that they are only going to be visiting for a week or two. Before you know it, they have been living there for five months, never having received prior approval. They think of themselves as “long-term guests”.

Unfortunately, the words “long-term” and “guest” are contradictory.

Rogue tenants are not necessarily bad, they just need to be documented and accountable to the terms of the lease. After all, I do want my tenants to be happy. (tweetable?)

Whenever this situation arises, my answer is always the same:

If you are an adult, living in my property, I need to know who you are – which is why you need to fill out an application – and that you will be jointly and severally liable for rent and damages – which is why you sign a lease.

I believe that if I treat my tenants like adults, they will behave as such.

Use of Premises

To accomplish this, I use a rock-solid lease, and stick to it. The moment I deviate from enforcing any part of the lease, I set a precedent that I will waive other lease terms, such as late fees or eviction.

In my lease, I use a clause entitled “Use of Premises” to limit the number of people allowed to occupy the dwelling and to explain the difference between a tenant and a guest.

As you can imagine, some tenants want to hide their guests simply because they don’t want me to raise the rent.

In fact, I rarely ever raise the rent when a college kid comes home, but I want to option to do so, just in case my individual tenant suddenly decides to move in seven extended family members.

Refusal to Sign

If a rogue tenant or long-term guests refuse to sign the lease, I have the option to terminate the lease, based the original tenants violation of the provision listed above.

The main purpose is not to raise the rent, but rather to have everyone accounted for and liable for the rent in case the original tenants abandon the lease.

Most tenants (rogue or otherwise) usually comply with signing the lease, especially if there is no extra expense.

Common Examples of Rogue Tenants

College Kids

  • SITUATION: Empty-nesters often want to downsize, so they sell their house and move into my rental. Then, their youngest either drops out of school and moves back in, or simply comes home for the summer.
  • MY RESPONSE: As long as this does not violate any county occupancy ordinances, or increase utility usage that I pay for, I simply create a lease addendum that adds the additional occupant to the lease, by name, and then I have everyone sign it.

Sick or Elderly Parents

  • SITUATION: An elderly parent takes a bad fall and now needs regular assistance. The children (my tenants) quickly volunteer to take mom in, without considering either the landlord or the lease.
  • MY RESPONSE: Because mom is at higher risk of accidents and injury, I especially want to make sure she signs the lease, not so much for the rent collection aspect, but just so she acknowledges her responsibility to obtain her own renter’s liability and medical insurance. The sad truth is that landlords can be held responsible for the personal injuries of tenants, but some of that risk is mitigated if they sign a lease. Again, as long as this doesn’t violate any county occupancy ordinances, I think family should help each other and stick together.

Single-Income Couple

  • SITUATION: Sometimes a couple will want to rent my unit together, but only one of them has an income. They assume that only the person who is qualifying for the lease needs to be listed.
  • MY RESPONSE: I’m all for true love, but I’m not stupid. Even though the couple might qualify based solely on one income, I still need both individuals to fill out separate applications and sign the lease, because they are both occupants. This protects my rental income if the couple breaks up or gets divorced.

The Perpetual Overnight Boyfriend of Girlfriend

  • SITUATION: Three days after your new tenant moves in, the neighbors call and say “I thought you only had one new tenant?!?” When you approach your tenant, she says, “Oh, that’s just my boyfriend. He was fired from DQ, and doesn’t have any money, so he’s staying with me until he can get on his feet.
  • MY RESPONSE: In response, I simply point to the lease and say, “That’s fine, but if it’s more than two weeks, I’ll need him to fill out an application and sign the lease.

The Forbidden Sublet

  • SITUATION: If subletting is prohibited in the lease, or if there is an extra fee involved, sometimes tenants will try to hide their subletter. Sometimes jobs change, or they need to leave, but they don’t want to pay the early termination fee or the subletting fee.
  • MY RESPONSE: If I learn that a subletter has moved in without my approval, I usually just require them to pay the one-time subletting fee (mentioned in the lease), under threat of a lease violation and subsequent termination. However, if the subletter wants to live there for a while, I might try to release the old tenant, and sign a new lease with the subletter (who then becomes the leasee). Therefore, I sign a longer tenancy, the original tenant is released, the new tenant doesn’t have to hide from me. Everyone is happy.

Share Your Story!

I’d love to hear your stories about long-term guests and rogue tenants. How did you handle them?

Please share in the comments below!

photo credit: Yevy Photography via cc
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773 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Danielle

    I have been living with my boyfriend since January 1st he in a rage is kicking me out and wants me out immediately myself and my disabled son live here I’m trying to figure out what rights I have and how long I have to leave I pay rent every month. We also work together and he’s refusing to pay me

    • Curtis

      Nasty boy friend. Better to live in your own room. Things will get better. I’m in Sacramento.

    • Gina C Mraz

      Why are you getting kicked out by him-you should have taken off a long time ago! Are you blind?dumb? or the disabled one?! GET THE HELL OUT! NO DOUBT HE’S GOT HIS NEXT DUMBY LINED UP AND WAITING TO MOVE IN AND PROBABLY HAS MORE $ THAN YOU! GO-O-O-O-D LU-U-U-UK!!!!!!!!!!

  • Trenell Peters

    I have a cousin staying in my home as a guest until he is finished having work done to his home so he said. It os now 16 months & I told him that I was placing the house on the market to be sold. I gave him plenty of time to move out, past 30 days. He keeps sayong he will be out by this & that date but the date comes & there is another excuse. Now the home is in the process of being sold & he needs to be out but he seems like he doesn’t want to leave. He is There is no lease & I am the owner. What are my rights pertaining to having the police make him leave?

  • K. M. Huser

    Who has the “burden of proof” in an over-ocupancy (presumably rogue tenant) situation ? and what is the “standard of proof” ?
    Too many college kids have apparently taken up residence next door — judging by the number of
    vehicles which are there overnight. Knowing that they’re being challenged, they have taken to parking some vehicles down the street, but we took photos of the vehicles and their license plates when they were parked at the residence.

  • norma

    I have a rental property. Long story short, Tenants lease expired 11/2017. Verbally let them live there without lease, since they were on time all time. Today 9/5/2018 I go to property find out they have about 7 more peeple living there, and they are charging those people for rent. Currently working on a lease, with very specific details. Before I am giving them a notice of things that bothered me, & also a check list of complaints-& no no’s-like a truck load of trash & chunk I cleaned off our property these last few days, (we are remodiling back porch, & they didnt expect us to arrive. Rent will be raised, people living there should move out, and a new contract should be signed if not a notice to move out will be given to them.

  • Desiree

    I need help. My grandmother and mother live together in a one bedroom apartment(commerce city), my grandfather passed away last year in their house. I go over to check on them both and help out where ever I can about 3-4 days out the week, at times I have spent the night if one of them have an early appointment so I can take them. They are both disabled. They don’t have a vehicle and I’m the only way to help them get groceries, get to appointments, etc. Well now my grandmother’s landlord has been saying that If I do happen to stay a night then she will get evicted.Can he evict her if I do end up staying overnight? I do not live there I live in aurora with my husband. He has said he has apt #18 watching house 24/7,it’s uncomfortable now.

  • Lauren Sullivan

    My current roommate and I are on a lease and it does not mention anything about defining tenants vs. guests. She currently has her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend visiting from college 1 month, PLUS her ex-husband staying with us for 3 weeks concurrently. None of them are paying rent or utilities. In this case, because the lease does not mention guest restrictions, can it be said she is in violation of the lease, at all? I do not think it is fair that I have to share my living space with 3-4 people when I signed an agreement to share a living space with ONE (2 bedrooms only BTW). This is not the first time either. In Spring, she had her parents with us for 3 straight months, they never left the flat. I get to feel like a stranger here

    • Jim

      My first knee-jerk response. Tell your roommate that either they go or you go. No, it may not fair but fair doesn’t trump ‘legal’. There is some precedent on limiting no more than two persons per available bedroom but not a law. The language in the lease agreement is the controlling factor as long as it does not violate a statute. Sounds to me like you might be better off finding other accommodations because your roommate is not very considerate of your feelings about the added occupants.

      Good luck

  • Charles St John

    My brother and I entered into a lease agreement with our landlord. Since then both of his adult children, for one reason or the other, has needed to stay with us. We only moved in on 8/3/18. This has occurred on and off since 8/10/18. They have taken it upon themselves to move in personal belongings and one of them has received mail here unauthorized. We are approaching the 14-day period where they are no longer a guest. I want them out. My brother says it’s ok that they stay. I worked too hard and too long to secure this place for my brother and I and quite afinancial investment. Im not willing to be evicted and out on the street because of these ungrateful squatters. Please help!

  • kathy

    i have an issue.. evicted a tenant in june .. he has been to felony court( just sentenced 9/7/18). now my other 2 renters (friends of his) who were now evicted in Sept. had him over for dinner last night/drinking etc. and took a picture of my other renters bike tag and posted on snap chat.. that renter is NOT happy..
    What are my recourses to keep 1st one off property and 2nd 2 from allowing him on the property or in the house.. Can I move the eviction notice for the 2nd 2 from 30 days to be out by the 1st of Oct (15day from eviction notice given to them) …

  • Rebeka Halbert

    I have a family with a 21 year old kid who is going to be getting his own apartment in the near future. How do I write the lease so he can be removed once he moves out?

  • Rita

    I have an ADU that I am renting out: Since there is not a separate electrical meter for it, I have included utilities in the rent, water and garage as well. I am looking for a single occupant.
    I have an applicant who is a commuter NorCal-SoCal. He is 50-50. 1 week here, then 1 week “home”
    (December will be 1 week here, 3 weeks home)
    He is proposing that when he comes his wife come with him.
    Essentially, he is asking for a double occupancy half the time.

    What is the best way to define that in my lease/rental contract? The term of the lease will be for 6 months.

    Please advise.
    I’m struggling with verbiage.

    Rita

    • Jim

      In our lease I use two lines; one that states this is a M/M agreement and one that states this is a lease for _______ months and shall not automatically renew. As a courtesy to the tenant we always send tenant a notice 60 days in advance that their agreement needs to be renewed, at which time we can make any changes.

      To make sure your verbiage is legal, you will need to contact a licensed attorney in your state.

  • Ramona Phillips

    I allowed a friend to stay a few days in an emergency. It’s been 10 days. Can I have her removed for trespassing if she won’t leave? I live in Nashville Tn.
    Ramona

  • David N. McCall

    I let a friend from childhood move into my guest bedroom until he got on his feet. He is a felon and thought he needed a second chance. He has begun to drink heavily and threatens me in my home. He eats my food, drinks my beers uses the entire house as if it is his. He is bringing pot and bongs into my house and underage girls.

    I live in Florida gave him a 15 day notice but now he is threatening me even more. Can I put a restraining order on him and get him out?

    • Jim

      My first knee-jerk response it to go immediately to the police and let them know what is going on. If they cannot arrest and incarcerate him then get an attorney to help you. It sounds like this person could become violent and you do not need that. Protect yourself and good luck

      • David N. McCall

        Had an incident yesterday, called cops, he got violent and pushed me when I gave him the 15 day eviction notice. My family member here now til they get out to witness and back me up.

        Thank you for the response.

  • Misti Ross

    My boyfriend and I are living together in a house that he bought. He and I allowed a friend to move in to our spare bedroom for a temporary time that was homeless to get on her feet, but her behavior has become hostile and inappropriate toward us. She might have mental health issues. We informed her she needed to leave in 6 months and if her behavior is not appropriate, She will need to leave in 24 hours. Her mail is coming to our address. We have put this in writing and she refuses to sign it including house rules. She states she is leaving immediately and then changes her mind. Now she says she doesn’t have to leave because her mail is delivered there. She has lived with us now for 4 mths.

    • Jim

      Most likely she has indeed established ‘residency. It will now require that you legally serve her with a properly prepared Eviction Notice if she does not voluntarily move out. Which I suggest you seriously consider. I would not suggest that you attempt this on your own because if you miss one tiny requirement within the legal notice, the court can make you pay for all her court costs and more and you would have to start the process all over. I urge you to get an attorney to prepare and serve the notice so that if it becomes necessary to go to court it will be you that prevails rather than your obstinant tenant.

      Never good to let friends move in on any terms. My rule.

      Good luck.

      • Misti Ross

        My boyfriend has a text from her stating that she is leaving immediately. So he has texted her for a time and date for her to come by and collect her belongings. She has been so wishy-washy that she’ll go back-and-forth on if she is really leaving. But I believe she will.

        • Misti Ross

          Looks like someone she knows is giving her advice. She is planning on staying. Looks like we will have to evict her.

          • Jim

            I don’t know how legal this would be but, you might offer her $100 cash if she signs an agreement relinquishing any and all current and/or prospective rights to tenancy and/or other beneficial rights to said property located at [address] and is out with all her belongings within say 78 hours. In the past I have gotten rid of some recalcitrant tenants by offering them cash to get out fast.

            If that would work, you would want to change locks after she was out and keep the doors locked for some time afterward so she can’t just move back in.

            Look at it this way; chalk up the misery and any costs up to ‘Tuition’.

  • Sarah

    hello, we took my father in law in because he was evicted and trying to get housing, which has been refused. Problems have come about and came to a head when my father in law filed a false police report which was dropped. The cops had stated since he has been there on a off for a few months he is legally a resident even if he does not pay rent, bills, etc and he is not on the lease. He refuses to leave at this point. What do I so?

    • Jim

      You will have to have him served with eviction papers. Obviously not something you should attempt on your own since one little mistake in the filing and the court could make you pay all court costs and the legal fees of your father-in-law. I suggest you only proceed with an attorney familiar with landlord/tenant law. Believe me when I tell you it will be far less expensive hiring the attorney than to attempt this on your own.

      Where the heck is your husband?

  • Sarah

    Mu husband is the one who was trying to make him leave, when the cops were called. He has been trying to fix this issue, but his efforts have been fruitless and I feel our hands are tied at this point… My PM/LL is understanding of this issue and will be assisting us.

    • Jim

      Good luck to you both.

      I cannot caution you more strongly to NOT file the eviction notice on your own. Even if your PM/LL drafts the eviction notice for you, if it gets kicked out by the court, it is YOU that will be writing the checks.

      Again, good luck

  • Bonnie Hastings

    My original tenant and his new housemate are not getting along. The new housemate has a girlfriend spending the night most nights and has exceeded the number of days. How do I treat this? I was thinking of sending a letter to the original housemate telling him to either stop letting girlfriend over or leave. The next step being an eviction notice. Girlfriend has not been there over 30 days yet.

  • candy

    who ever is reading this testimony today should please celebrate with me and my family because it all started like a joke to some people and others said it was impossible. my name is candy i live in USA i am happily married with two kids and a lovely husband something terrible happen to my family along the line, i lost my job and my husband packed out of my house because i was unable to take care of him and my kids at that particular time. i manage all through five years, no husband to support me to take care of the children and there come a faithful day that i will never forget in my life i met an old friend who i explain all my difficulties to, and he took me to a spell caster and the name of the temple is called,, dr.ojelimespellhome@gm

  • cyberleader

    Nice, Im a tennant but most land lords dont act this way and thus i end up exploiting it. But you have an iron clad system, and you arnt an asshole. Id love to rent from you if i could pass your screening.

  • shanae

    I had a guy friend who had nowhere to go and would have to be out of his place 9/30/18. I said he could come stay while im pregnant and staying with my boyfriend. I told him he can use all my stuff but instead 8 days after he left his old place and came to my place I saw he has all his furniture in my apartment. I did not say that he could as I told him he can use what he wanted in my home. We had an argument about moving my bed into storage despite me telling him nothing was to be moved out of my apartment. Now my bed is up against my wall, my place look disgusting and smells terrible. I cut my cable off as well as I did not feel like that needed something to be kept on. He told me if I did not cut it back on He would make my life miserab

    • jim

      Sounds like you have a real ‘ringer’ on your hands. Assuming you own your home. You have made him a ‘TENANT’ by inviting him to ‘stay’. First off I would file a police report about his threats so you have something on record. They cannot do anything unless he commits a crime. Otherwise, it’s a civil matter. I suggest you contact a lawyer practicing landlord/tenant law who can advise you regarding serving an eviction notice. DO NOT try to do the eviction notice yourself. If you end up having to take it into the court, if you have just one minor omission on the notice, you could end up having to pay all his court and attorney costs as well as having to start the process all over. DO NOT DELAY. Get him out NOW. High cost of tuition.

      • shanae

        I gave him a date of november 30th to leave. I will be returning back there and will be with my parents. Should I call the police to get him out if he does not. All of my stuff is there. I just want him gone. He has wished bad on me and my unborn child.

        • Jim

          Now, you can call the police but they will have NO POWER to help you evict him because that is a CIVIL MATTER. If anyone of you TOUCH him he will have an ASSAULT AND BATTERY criminal and civil case against you. You are venturing down a slippery slope by not getting an attorney to help you and serve a legal eviction notice.

          An alternative: offer him $$$ to be out in 48 hours. Anything over $250 and you could be putting that toward your legal fees to have him legally evicted. Sometimes, not always, an eviction notice from an attorney will be intimidating enough cause his quick departure.

          Good luck

  • Wendy

    My husband left me for a younger woman and I was devastated. It was as if she had him under an evil spell, Paul turned against me overnight without any warning. It happened last year, I was desperate so I used every single spell casting website that I could find with no results. A friend sent me the link to Dr. Todd’s site and I contacted him. He started working with me on June. As a result from all of his wonderful work, my man and I are back together. I’m so happy and privileged to have such a great person like you on my side. Thank you! Todd’s contact manifest spell cast @ gmail. com..

  • Deanna

    I’m a renter and I help out my husband’s cousin and her grandkids because she didn’t have nowhere else it was supposed to be 2 months and has already broken our verbal agreement twice I told her to pay or quit what can I do!

  • Margaret wyne

    My Husband divorce me for no reason, Thanks to Dr.FREEDOM for bringing back my husband,and brought great joy to my family once again, My name is Alberto Stephanie. i live in US, I`m happily married to a lovely and caring Husban,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my husband so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he did not love me anymore So he packed out of belongings from his house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again.on a

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