Having an unauthorized occupant in a rental property is frustrating and a potential liability problem for a landlord. An unauthorized occupant is a person living in a rental unit without a legal tenancy and the landlord's permission. The occupant may not meet the landlord's screening requirements, such as a passing background check, and can cause problems with other tenants or property damage. A landlord can evict a tenant for having an unauthorized occupant, but he must prove the occupant is not authorized first.
Check state landlord-tenant laws. Go to the official website of the state Legislature to locate laws. Look for the laws regarding notice to a tenant who is violating the lease or occupancy terms. Note how long the tenant has after receiving a notice to cure the violation, what the notice must say and how to deliver it to the tenant. For example, a landlord in Florida can mail the tenant a written notice but must give the tenant seven days to cure, while a landlord in Wisconsin must try to personally give the notice to a person in the rental unit over the age of 14 and wait five days.
Draft a notice of noncompliance with the lease. State the unauthorized occupant is the reason for notice. State the lease violation must be cured and any other wording required by state law. Copy the notice. Send the notice to the tenant by certified mail or return receipt or have the tenant personally served, as dictated by state laws. Wait for the cure period to pass.
Create a log of dates the times the occupant is seen entering and leaving the apartment. Include how long the occupant stayed in the apartment.
Take photos of the unauthorized person entering and leaving the rental unit after the cure time has passed. Use a camera that date-stamps the photos.
Check surveillance cameras if installed around the property. Keep footage of the occupant entering and leaving and footage of the occupant's vehicle.
Ask any employees who have access to the rental property for sworn statements about the unauthorized occupant. Ask the employees to include a physical description of the person.
Send the notice as soon as you find out about the unauthorized occupant. Failing to do so may give the occupant rights.
Do not threaten the tenant or occupant. Do not walk up to the occupant to take photos. Take photos at a distance. Do not accept rent from the occupant.
- Andrew M. Hull, Attorney at Law: Frequently Asked Questions
- The Landlord Protection Agency: What Do I Do if My Tenant Has Unauthorized Occupants?
- Law Offices of Heist, Weiss, Davis and Wolk, P.A.; "Evicting for Unauthorized Occupants"; Harry Anthony Heist
- Law Office of Timothy C. Schuler; "Florida Landlord Tenant Eviction Procedures"; Timothy C. Schuler; May 2009
- Tenant Resource Center: Evictions