One gray area that San Diego landlords continually have to deal with is the issue of long-term guests. While it seems reasonable that tenants will have guests stay over at times, having long-term guests that act like tenants could bring about some legal risks for landlords under California law.
Continue reading below as we cover some of the things that landlords should know when a guest has overstayed their welcome.
Standard Guest Clauses
In California, it’s the standard for lease agreements to include a clause on guests and the length of time they’re permitted to stay.
Most of the time, this will include the number of days and nights they are allowed to stay on the property within a certain time frame. After this time has expired, they must be listed as a tenant and sign the lease agreement, which gives the landlord grounds to increase the rent.
Why are Long-Term Guests a Problem?
It’s pretty expected for your tenants to have guests stay over. However, rogue tenants that stay for extended periods of time can be a legal liability for the landlord should they do something illegal or cause harm to your property or others during their stay.
This is why many landlords have such extensive screening processes to perform background checks and ensure they have vetted tenants that won’t cause problems.
Thus, the landlord could be putting themselves and other neighboring tenants at risk if they allowed an unknown individual to reside on the property without having the chance to do any due diligence.
Do Landlords Have Protections?
Under California law, landlords are within their rights to evict the lease holding tenant for violating their lease when a guest has overstayed their permitted time.
This can help protect them from rogue tenants who have taken up residence in the unit without the landlord’s permission.
However, there is a certain point where a long-term guest becomes a tenant, like if they have a key, if the landlord has accepted rent payments from them, and more. If this is the case, they will have to be properly evicted through the courts like any other tenant.
Open up the Conversation
You may have a feeling that you have a rogue tenant in one of your units based on some of the following factors:
- They have a key
- They are contributing to the rent
- They make maintenance requests
- They spend most nights on the property
So if this is something you notice, you should contact the tenant to find out what the situation is. In some cases, the tenant may not even be aware that this is a violation of their lease, and will happily get the guest approved and signed on the lease.
If needed, you may provide the tenant with a written notice that you will do an inspection of the property to see who is all there and have a face-to-face conversation.
While there, remind them of the guest rules, assess their good faith, and try to resolve the issue in a friendly manner if possible. If you come to an agreement that they will stay and sign on the lease, make sure to undergo the same screening process as you would with any other tenant.
Final Thoughts on Long-Term Guests
If the guest refuses to leave or adding another tenant would violate occupancy laws in your area, you could be within your rights to evict the signed tenants as we described above.
So while it’s important to have empathy for certain situations and understand why a guest may have overstayed their welcome, you still need to enforce the lease agreement that all parties agreed to.
After all, your rental property is important to you, and you don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to long-term guests staying on your property. It’s best to air on the side of caution and resolve the issue as soon as you’re aware of it.
Written by Bailey Schramm in partnership with Checkworks personal and business checks.