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How To Know When a Guest Has Become a Tenant

Property Management and Tenant Placement

How To Know When a Guest Has Become a Tenant


During the last two years, the rental market has changed, and many people who were previously housed no longer have a place to live, in some cases, this led the average tenant to invite a friend, family member or relative to live with them.

Sadly, most landlords are typically unaware that their tenants have a friend or family member living in their home because the tenant has classified those individuals as ‘guests’, instead of tenants.

The good news is that there are several things that landlords can do to know the difference between a guest and a tenant. 

Difference Between Guest And Tenant

Quite simply, the easiest way to determine the difference between guest and a tenant is the fact that the tenant is listed on the lease agreement, and the guest is not.

Tenants pay rent, they respect the rental agreement terms, and they also are legally responsible for living up to everything that they’ve agreed to in the lease agreement.

Consequently, tenants also have rights and obligations as well, and they are protected by Federal & State landlord tenant laws.

Unlike tenants, guests are not responsible to the landlord at all. They come and go as they please, they don’t have to abide by the terms in the lease agreement and, the longer they stay, they potentially present a liability for the tenant and the landlord.


Signs That a Guest Is Becoming a Tenant

At some point, a landlord may begin to suspect that their tenant has a guest that have overstayed their welcome and they have become tenants themselves.

Here’s how you clearly find when a long-term guest has indeed become an illegal tenant:

  • A guest can be a tenant when they’ve stayed in rental property for up to 1 month at a time


  • They started moving their personal belongings into the rental property and are beginning to park their vehicle on the driveway, or in the parking space, that’s normally reserved for the tenant.
  • The guest is now receiving mail at the tenant’s address, indicating that they have moved recently or no longer have a forwarding address.
  • When the rent is due, the guest is now attempting to contribute towards paying the monthly rent. This is by far the clearest sign that they can now be an unauthorized tenant instead of a guest.

How To Prevent Guests from Becoming Unauthorized Tenants

Let’s face it, nobody likes to be the bad guy but, the reality is that it’s the landlord’s duty and responsibility is to ensure that their tenant abides by the lease agreement, especially if they have other tenants living in the same building, or property.

Here are the steps that need to be followed to ensure that a guest does not become an unauthorized tenant.

Create A Guest Clause in the Lease Agreement

The guest clause must clearly define how long guests can stay in the rental property before they are classified as a tenant and most importantly, the clause must also provide very clear proactive measures that the renter can expect to face if they violate that clause.

Besides being clear regarding how long a guest can stay in the rental property, the clause must also include specific language regarding the number of guests that are allowed to stay in the property per night, how many nights a guest can stay in the property for any length of time, and the type of guests that are allowed to stay in the property as well.

Communicate With the Tenant – Once the landlord has taken the steps to clearly outline the differences between a guest and a tenant in their lease agreement, and they are certain that their tenant has violated that lease agreement, the next step is to communicate with both the tenant and the guest.

Communication is essential because there’s always going to be that lingering question regarding why that individual is staying in the property for that length of time, and when they can be expected to leave.

The most important thing to consider during the conversation with the tenant is to make sure that they are aware that they are violating the lease agreement since the terms of the agreement are in writing, and they must be made aware of what consequences they can expect to face if they don’t resolve the situation immediately.

Since Covid-19, the recession, and inflation are making things difficult for everyone right now, it’s ideal for landlords to have patience with their tenants because it’s entirely possible that the tenant is doing their part to help a friend or family member in their time of need by providing them with a place to live.

If the tenant is indeed providing their guest with emergency shelter, they should be given a timeline for when the guest is expected to leave or depending upon the size of the rental property, the tenant should be given the option of turning are cast into a tenant Legally.

During the process of resolving this situation, it’s also important to remember to know that your rent should never be accepted as payment from a guest. This is important because, by accepting a payment from the guest, they may think that they’ve entered into an informal lease agreement with the landlord.

Contact Rent Portland Homes – Professionals

At Rent Portland Homes – Professionals, our property management team takes away the stress that comes with managing a rental property.

We have a full staff that handles all aspects of property management including tenant selection, tenant placement, rent collection, maintenance and so much more.

If you’re tired of managing a rental property yourself, keeping up with changes to laws in the rental market, or maybe you just want to earn a better return on investment from your property, contact us today by calling (503) 447-7735, or click here to connect with us online. You’ll be glad that you did!