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If you were to knock on the door of your rental property today, would a stranger answer?

What could be more frustrating for a landlord than spending the time to weed out bad rental prospects, only to have the tenant allow strangers to move in? Unfortunately, it’s not that uncommon. But it is unacceptable.

Your tenant puts you and your property at risk when they invite others to stay in the rental. First, there is the increased liability if the guest causes a disturbance–or worse. Then, there are increased costs if the landlord pays for utilities, and increased noise and traffic. That’s not to mention the shock of finding out the original tenant left, and now you don’t know who is living in the rental.

To avoid an unwelcome surprise, take these steps to stave off a tenant bait and switch:

Be careful who you let into the property in the first place. Have every applicant complete a rental application and do a background check, including checking references.

Make sure your lease has a strong guest policy. The tenant should have to ask you for permission to move someone else in. That someone has to undergo a background check. If they are safe and appropriate, consider adding them to the lease so they are liable for rent.

Conduct regular property inspections. You should see familiar faces, and the same number of occupants that are on the lease.

Take action right away if you suspect a tenant is overcrowding the rental property. Unauthorized guests are a security risk.

New occupants who are not on the lease may do damage to the property. Make sure your tenants know that they are the ones who are liable if the damage is done by a guest or co-tenant.

Don’t waste time–file for an eviction if the tenant won’t honor your wishes or abide by the lease.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.

  • George Van Arsdall

    Here in New York state, as I understand the law, a tenant with a lease is allowed to bring in one additional adult occupant not named on the lease. They are required to notify the landlord within 30 days that the additional occupant is present, but the landlord cannot terminate the lease or evict just because the additional occupant is present. My leases are very strict regarding additional occupants and even overnight guests, but if tested in court, they might not hold up because of this provision in state law.

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