20th Oct 2018
Q: I have just found out that my tenant’s sister is staying with her. Does she need to be on the tenancy agreement as well?
A: This is a good question, and actually tends to be a common query that is raised when landlords happen to find out that their tenants have a guest, visiting family or a new partner. Simply answered, no, she does not need to be added to the tenancy agreement on the proviso that she is not staying longer than two weeks in any six month period (a term that should be reflected in your tenant’s agreement).
There are three ways that a tenant is perceived in a landlord’s mind. One, the tenant is the person named in the tenancy agreement; two, the tenant is the person paying the rent; or three, the tenant is the person that lives in the property. Whilst technically all are true this does not mean that you should just add the guest to the agreement. It all depends on the circumstances. Use your judgement, as it could be that they have a parent visiting them from the other side of the world, so no point adding them. However, a friend that is looking for a new flat and will be staying until they find one might be worth adding.
Written into the tenancy agreement, the tenant has a right of quiet enjoyment; guests are certainly part of that enjoyment and are allowed, but remember only for a limited time.
I would recommend that you watch out for a few warning signs that may indicate your tenants’ guest is looking to stay longer: guests who pay rent, receive post at the property, spend every night at the property, moved in furniture and the best one is the guest is making maintenance requests.
Be mindful that there is a thin line between what a guest and a tenant are, and if you have already accepted rent from a guest, you might have initiated a landlord and tenant relationship. If so, your new tenant could claim to have the same rights as any other tenant, and will not be easy to remove as an unwanted guest.
Such situations of guests becoming tenants can generally be avoided if you have an honest and open conversation with the current tenant, and simply just say that the guest is not to stay longer than two weeks, and if they are to stay longer then you want them added to the tenancy agreement. So, the guest would then have to agree to the terms, and you will have a legal record who is living there, along with a legal agreement.
If you are still finding yourself at a loss then please contact the office for some initial free impartial advice.