Keeping Tabs on Your Tenant’s Tenants

With the rising popularity of short term rentals — vacation and otherwise, it may be wise to review the strength of your leasing policies when it comes to subletting.

Tenants may have nothing but good intentions when they rent a room out to their recently-paroled friend. But you may not agree with the tenant’s own appraisal of the situation.

If your lease allows subletting by consent, are you exercising your right to screening your tenant’s tenants? Are you aware of who is renting and sleeping in the unit?

Sometimes renters sublet because they already moved into another place, but your lease term is not quite up. Some tenants think they can make a little money on the side by renting out your property to weekly vacationers, or even monthly nesters.

If you don’t maintain a close watch on the tenant and the property, you can never be sure just what or who is inside.

There is also a concern that the subletting tenant will ignore zoning laws, subjecting landlords to fines, or even revocation of rental licenses.  Some tenants sublet to game the system. Perhaps your building’s original rent-controlled tenant doesn’t actually live there anymore — but someone does.

And what landlord wouldn’t feel upset to discover their tenant is getting $1,000 a month for rent but only paying the landlord $750.

Your tenant who sublets without permission muddies the waters when it comes to your legal rights.  It can be difficult and expensive to serve legal notices or collect a judgment against an occupant when you don’t know who they are.

Landlords aren’t the only ones perturbed at the notion of frequent or unauthorized subletting; many tenants also voice their disapproval. They feel its unfair that someone could rent in their building who doesn’t really live there, or may be afraid of who their neighbor let in.  Most people feel more comfortable knowing their neighbors and are nervous about having new, short-term ones every other week.  Renters have blamed the practice of subletting for dragging down their neighborhoods.

As vacancies become harder to find, subletting is more likely to increase. Make sure you exercise your right to verify who lives in your rentals.

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