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How to Handle Unauthorized Investment Property Tenants

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If you have owned an investment property for any length of time, you have likely run into a situation where a tenant allowed someone else to move into the apartment without your knowledge or approval.  And if you’ve never experienced this, well, don’t worry…you will!

This is a tricky situation to be sure.  On the one hand, it can be extremely annoying when one of your tenants tries to pull the wool over your eyes – whether it is sneaking pets in apartments, or another tenant.  But on the other hand, assuming the original tenant is not a complete piece of trash, you don’t want to take action in a way that risks your relationship with the legit tenant.  In fact, you should always be somewhat cautious in your approach because you do not want to run the risk of tenant retaliation.

The best way to handle this is to try and prevent it from happening in the first place.  As such, make sure your apartment lease contains language that addresses your occupancy policy.  Your lease should specifically state that tenants are required to let you know about any new occupant, that you have the right to do a full background check on any new occupant, and that you have the right to either reject any new occupant or add him to the existing lease and/or charge additional rent.

Of course, policies like these are only as good as the degree to which your tenants actually comply.  In the case of non-compliance, you might be able to throw the new occupant out for trespassing or even evict the original tenant.  But different states have different rules and regulations around what you can and cannot do in this regard, so check your state’s landlord tenant laws and consult a property attorney if necessary.

To sum it up, make sure your lease gives YOU full control in situations where unauthorized occupants are living in the property.  Add language to your lease that allows you to screen, approve or reject, or charge more rent for any additional occupants.  And above all, if you find yourself dealing with noncompliance, by all means consult with an attorney.

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