What If A Tenant Has Moved In Their Boyfriend/Girlfriend Without Permission
When your tenant moves someone else into your property you need to act fast to enforce your lease and to limit your own personal liability. If you fail to respond appropriately, you could end up in problematic legal waters. Once your tenant’s boyfriend or girlfriend has lived on your property long enough, they may gain rights of tenancy and this will make them far more difficult to remove. While they remain a non-tenant resident you may also find yourself with limited legal control over the situation.
Step 1: Review Your Lease
A boilerplate lease contract usually has specific stipulations regarding overnight guests, subletting and other related issues. Usually the lease will state that you need to be notified of any overnight guests and that guests are prohibited from staying for more than a week. If your lease does not outline these restrictions, you may need to chalk it up to a learning experience. Pennsylvania’s Landlord Tenant Code does not specify its own restrictions on subletting, allowing a tenant to move in additional tenants or even replace themselves on the lease entirely without repercussion.
Step 2: Add Them to the Lease
If you don’t want to evict your tenant, your next step will be to simply write a new lease out with your tenant and their girlfriend or boyfriend on it. If your tenant is amicable to this and you don’t have any direct problem with their girlfriend or boyfriend staying, this may be an ideal solution; after all, it gives you twice as many people to pay the rent. If you do go this route, however, you need to obtain a new signed lease as soon as possible. Until the girlfriend or boyfriend is on a lease, you are not legally protected.
Step 3: Send a Written Notice
If your tenant’s significant other is not willing to sign the lease and your lease specifically states that your tenant is not allowed to move in another person, you will need to proceed with a notice of lease violation. The notice should specify the section of the lease that they are violating, the action that you want them to take to resolve the situation and the amount of time they have to resolve the issue. The amount of time you are required to allow will vary based on your state; in Pennsylvania there is no specific statute governing this but 15 to 30 days is normally standard.
Step 4: Begin Eviction Proceedings
If your tenant does not comply with your notice after the amount of time you have given them, you will need to begin the procedure for an eviction. At this stage, you can still give them another time period in which to comply with your initial requests or you can simply state the date that they will need to leave by, usually 15 to 30 days. If your tenants leave within the time frame given you can inspect their unit, find new tenants and refund their deposit as applicable. If your tenants choose not to leave, you will need to escalate the situation to an eviction hearing.
Adding your tenant’s significant other to the lease with them is usually the easiest and fastest way to resolve this type of situation. However, if your tenant is neither willing to add their significant other to the lease nor move their significant other out, you may ultimately need to evict them. Having a non-tenant resident on your property can represent significant liability issues; the non-tenant resident could become injured on your property, commit a crime on your property or damage your property directly, leading to legal difficulties and financial problems later on.