What is a Tenant Guest Policy Addendum?
A tenant guest policy addendum is a legal contract between a landlord and a tenant. This document may be incorporated into a residential lease agreement to provide clarity on topics including limits on the number of guests, length of stay, and when a guest becomes a tenant.
Are They a Guest or a Tenant?
Tenants are permanent residents who have signed a lease agreement and pay to live on the property. Guests are temporary residents who visit occasionally, do not pay rent, and have not signed a lease agreement. While this may seem self-explanatory, a guest can easily become a tenant if the landlord does not have clear guest policies in place.
When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?
Certain states have benchmarks for a guest becoming a tenant—such as living in the rental unit for 30 consecutive days. However, there are no federal laws that determine this. That is why it’s important for landlords to be aware of signs that a guest may be crossing the line into tenancy. These signs include:
- Guests who receive mail at the property
- Guests who move furniture into the unit
- Guests who have their own key
- Guests who are spending most nights at the property
- Guests who pay rent or contribute to household expenses
Should a Landlord Accept Rent From a Guest?
If a landlord accepts rent from guests, they are automatically entered into a landlord-tenant agreement. This makes removing them more difficult since they now have rights.
Additionally, if their name is not in the lease, landlords cannot require a background check or prove that they are contributing to monthly rent payments. To prevent these scenarios from forming, landlords should not accept rent from anyone who is not on the lease agreement.
How to Create an Effective Tenant Guest Policy Addendum
As explained above, the lines between tenants and guests can quickly become blurred. If a landlord doesn’t specify guest policies in the lease, they can risk a complicated situation developing. When creating a guest policy addendum, landlords should consider:
- The maximum number of residents that can live in the unit (landlords should make sure they’re in compliance with state/local occupancy laws)
- Type of guests allowed (landlords may restrict guests to tenant’s friends or family only—meaning strangers, such as subletters or Airbnb guests, are prohibited)
- Maximum number of guests allowed in the space at one time
- Limits on the number of nights a guest can stay in the unit within a given period
- Number of consecutive nights a guest can stay
- How they will handle guests who stay beyond the allotted time period
What Happens If a Guest Stays Longer Than Allowed?
Many states specify that a guest automatically becomes a tenant after a certain number of days (either consecutive or within a certain time period). For example, New York law states that a guest becomes a tenant after 30 consecutive days.
In states without specific cut-off points, landlords must specify their own requirements in the lease agreement, such as:
- Consecutive Days in Unit – A guest cannot stay more than ___ consecutive days without permission from the Landlord. 30 days is common.
- Days Spent in Unit Over a 6-Month Period – A guest cannot stay more than ___ days within a 6-month period without permission from the Landlord. 10-14 nights is a common range.
From there, landlords can decide on the outcome of violating these policies. If a tenant’s guest exceeds either the state or lease limits, the landlord has two choices:
1. Evict the tenant for violating the lease
2. Add the guest to the lease—meaning the guest now has to abide by the rules of the lease
What to Include in a Tenant Guest Policy Addendum
Landlords should include the following in their tenant guest policy lease addendum:
- Type of Agreement – The heading and opening should state that this is a tenant guest policy addendum.
- Lease Date – The date of the original lease should be included.
- Agreement Date – Landlords should include the date that the agreement is signed and goes into effect.
- Name and Address – The names and addresses of both the landlord and tenants should be included.
- Signature and Date – The agreement should be signed and dated by both the landlord and tenants.
- Terms – Landlords should include all guest policy terms and conditions including maximum stay, number of guests allowed, penalties for violating the agreement, etc.