When Does a Guest Become a Tenant? - Article Banner

If you’re like most people, hosting a friend or family member is fun. 

For a few days. 

There’s always an awkward point, though, when your guest has overstayed their welcome, and it feels like it’s just time for them to pack up and move on. 

It’s one thing to deal with a long term guest in your own home. But, what do you do when it’s a guest who has stayed too long in your rental property? What if a tenant has a visitor who ends up staying for weeks? Months? 

When does that guest officially become a tenant who needs to be screened and added to the lease agreement? 

We’re picking through some of those particulars in our blog today.

Defining a Guest and Defining a Tenant 

A guest is someone who visits for a temporary period of time. They usually don’t move in with their own furniture. They usually don’t get a key to the property. They’re not on the lease agreement. 

A tenant is listed on your lease agreement and accountable to all the requirements listed in the lease. You know they’re going to be in place for at least the term of the lease agreement. 

This summary explains the main difference between tenants and guests. When you have a tenant living in your property, that tenant is responsible for paying rent on time and preventing any damage. But a guest is not. They’re not accountable to the lease and there’s no way for you to gather information on who they are or where they came from. 

Dangers of Guests Becoming “Tenants”

A guest who never leaves can be a liability for you and your property. 

The longer they stay in place, the closer they get to becoming a permanent fixture. But, you don’t want a guest to establish residency in your property without having properly screened them or added them to the lease agreement. 

When that person is not listed on the lease, you cannot hold them legally accountable for rent payments and property damage. You might even have trouble removing them from your property. A guest who has established residency without being on the lease agreement has basically become a glorified squatter. 

What Landlords Can Do about Guest Tenants

Lease Agreement

Your lease agreement should state how long tenants are allowed to have overnight guests. 

Maybe it’s 7 days or 10 days or two weeks. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s in writing and make sure your authorized tenants understand the restriction. When you have a specific limit to how long a guest can stay, you can enforce that lease clause. 

If you notice that a tenant has hosted someone for longer than what your lease allows, talk to your tenant. Explain that the ongoing presence of the guest violates the lease agreement. You can invite them to add the guest as a legal tenant on the lease agreement or you can require that person to vacate the property (the guest, not the tenant). 

Florida landlords can take steps to evict unauthorized tenants, but if you have a good relationship in place with your current resident, you should be able to resolve this without legal action. 

If you’d like to talk about this situation and how to prevent it, please contact us at Park Avenue Property Management. We work in Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, Kissimmee, Celebration, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, West Palm Beach, Tampa Bay, and throughout central Florida.