Changing Locks On A Tenant`s Guest

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on May 4, 2007 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Many a time, landlords with rental property find that along with their bonafide tenant, they are saddled with a friend he / she allowed to stay over, while the guest searched for a place to live. However, come time to move and the visitor refuses to comply. Now, while most landlords want the original tenant to stay, as does the tenant, the guest is the one that they want to leave. In such a situation, most would be tempted to change the locks on the doors, allowing access only to the original tenant and, excluding his / her visitor. The question that arises is, whether such an act would be legal.

As long as, rent has not been accepted from the tenant’s guest or any indication given that he / she has been accepted as a tenant, the latter is nothing, but an unauthorised occupant. The fact that your tenant allowed a guest to stay for a while, does not turn the guest into a co-tenant.

Theoretically, an unauthorised occupant is nothing other than a trespasser, and states have ways to get rid of them, so you can begin with a call to your local police. There is no legal reason, why you and your tenant cannot change the locks to keep out a trespasser.

However, while the law may be on your side, you are restricted from taking it safely in your own hands. Most often, many long-term guests will claim they were treated like tenants, which means they have the same rights as bonafide tenants. And, as everyone knows freedom from illegal evictions, including lock changing is a significant tenant right.

So, unfortunately, the wisest course a landlord stuck with an unwanted guest can take, instead of changing locks and being sued in court, is to file an eviction action against this interloper.

That apart, landlords should make themselves cognisant with all rules and regulations before drafting tenancy leases or rental agreements. They must also take all necessary precautions, such as, tenant screenings, background checks on prospective tenants, including making certain all rental lease clauses are adhered to, as insurance for a litigation free landlord / tenant relationship. A simple click of the mouse and any landlord or property manager can visit for their tenant screening and background check services., the best tenant screening agency in America!

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