As a property manager or owner, you’ve carefully vetted each and every tenant. You’ve reviewed tenants’ rental history, credit scores, and references. However, you simply can’t manage all visitors who spend time at your property. That’s why it’s so important to have a clear tenant guest policy.
In this post, we define a tenant guest policy. Then, we outline the differences between occupants and guests. Afterward, we give some ways to determine when a guest has become a resident. Finally, we tell you how to write an effective tenant guest policy.
This post covers:
- What is a tenant guest policy?
- What is the difference between occupant and guest?
- When does a guest become a resident?
- How to write a tenant guest policy
What is a tenant guest policy?
A tenant guest policy is the written agreement you make with your residents regarding your property’s position on guests. This policy is enforced by all staff members, particularly your doorman.
The apartment guest policy is typically included in the lease. However, it can be a separate document signed at the time of lease signing. You should always include a written guest policy in your rental agreement, not a verbal agreement, in order to have a concrete form to refer to in the event of violations.
It’s important to have a resident guest policy. Not only does this help you keep track of who comes in and out of your building, but it also prevents you from being liable for any damage caused by an unauthorized visitor. After all, while you’ve spent hours vetting your residents, it’s impossible to have the same influence on which guests are allowed on your property.
What is the difference between occupant and guest?
The specific differences between residents and guests will vary based on your location. So, always check local laws and ordinances before making any management decisions.
However, here are a few traits of residents vs. guests:
|Name appears on the lease||Name doesn’t appear on the lease|
|Pays monthly rent||Doesn’t pay monthly (or one-time) rent|
|Stays at the residence for extended periods of time||Stays at the residence for one or a few nights|
When does a guest become a resident?
So, you know how to identify an occupant vs. a guest. But is it possible for a guest to become a resident?
The answer is yes! While most guests-turned-residents will come to you to request a formal lease change in order to begin contributing to the rent, some will move in without notifying you.
In this case, you’ll have to identify when a guest has become a resident. But how?
Here are three ways to determine if a guest has taken up permanent residence:
1. Regular overnight stays
Do you have a tenant whose partner stays with them every once in a while? That’s normal and to be expected. However, do you have a tenant whose partner stays over for weeks at a time?
If so, they may have inadvertently become a tenant.
You can monitor the frequency of overnight stays by monitoring your security footage, access control system logs, or parking space usage.
2. Moved assets
Keeping a spare set of clothes at a friend’s apartment is common. But moving in furniture is not!
If your residents’ guest has moved in large furniture or a disproportionate amount of personal belongings, they’ve likely begun to consider your property their home.
3. Requested a change of address
Have you noticed a new name popping up in your mailbox? Guests don’t regularly receive mail to an address that’s not theirs. In fact, receiving mail or requesting a change of address is the easiest way to identify legal evidence of occupancy.
However, a resident may be temporarily receiving mail for a friend between living situations, so be understanding when bringing this up with your tenant.
Check out the complete guide to real estate marketing on social media:
How to write a tenant guest policy
If you don’t have a written guest policy in your apartment, you are vulnerable to liability for damage caused by unapproved guests. So, ensure each resident agrees to your apartment guest policy.
Further, make sure you explain the differences between guests and occupants in the policy. This way, your residents don’t unintentionally turn their guests into permanent residents.
Here are a few tips for creating a fair renter guest policy:
- Set occupancy limits. Based on each unit’s floor plan and square footage, you can set a maximum occupancy limit. Check local laws to find out the legal occupancy limits in your area. This is a good way to initially prevent unauthorized occupants, but it doesn’t do much in the way of monitoring guests.
- Outline guest parameters. Property owners have the final say over who is and isn’t allowed to stay on the property. That being said, most residents will host guests from time to time. So, it’s important to be flexible. However, make sure your residents know your specific rules for guest occupancy. This may be a limited number of consecutive nights, a limited number of guests, or a limited number of stays per month.
- Introduce guest time limits. As previously stated, you can set a limit on the amount of time guests can spend at your property without further authorization. This limit can be introduced in several ways, including a limit of 3 nights per week, 10 nights per month, or 30 nights per 6 months.
What is a reasonable tenant guest policy?
A reasonable tenant guest policy does a few things:
- It takes into account that all residents will have guests at some point.
- Is written into the lease agreement so it can be referred to at any time.
- Adheres to local laws and regulations.
- A tenant guest policy is a written agreement signed by you and your residents regarding your stance on guests.
- The difference between occupants and guests includes whether their name appears on the lease and if they contribute money towards rent.
- A guest can become a resident if they request a legal change of address, move in substantial assets, or stay overnight regularly.
- Your rental guest policy should set occupancy limits, outline guest parameters, and introduce guest time limits.