There are many big differences between a tenant and a guest. For starters, only a tenant is on the lease. Guests of the tenant who stay too long can create some problems for you. We’re talking about the safety of your property and your rights when it comes to how you manage that property.
The main reason that this can be a difficult situation is this: You need to know who you’re renting to; it’s one of the reasons you have your tenants sign a lease agreement. When someone seemingly moves into your property but they’re not on the lease, you’re in a sticky legal situation. How do you enforce the lease with them when they’re not on it? How do you evict that tenant when there’s no written evidence that they live there?
Tenants have guests. We understand that. If a tenant hosts a friend or a family member or someone from out of town for a couple of days or even a week, that’s generally no big deal. But, when that guest begins to establish roots, moves in a bed, and seems disinterested in leaving, there might be some cause for concern.
Has this person ceased to be a visiting guest and someone became a resident?
Nevada law does not have much to say about tenants vs. guests, and simply refers the owner of the property or the property manager to the lease agreement. For this reason, you must make sure that your Las Vegas lease agreement references visitors. It’s normal to have your lease be specific about limits on guests and how long they’re able to stay. A guest policy is perfectly reasonable, and it should state exactly when a guest becomes a tenant, and what the procedure becomes in order to turn that individual into a screened, approved, and compliant tenant.
Here is how we approach the matter at New West Property Management, as professional property managers in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas.
Set Some Consistent Standards: Defining a Guest and Defining a Tenant
A tenant has been screened and approved, paid a security deposit, and is listed on your lease agreement.
A guest is not on your lease agreement, has not been screened, and has not paid a security deposit or agreed to any of the terms and conditions in your lease.
These are the main differences between tenants and their guests. When you have a tenant living in your property, that tenant is responsible for paying rent on time and preventing any damage to the home. They’re required to follow the responsibilities and the terms of the lease agreement. You know who they are and how many of them are in your property.
A guest is not listed on the lease. There is no way for you to gather information or hold a guest accountable to the condition of the property or the payment that’s required to live there. Guests come and go. They do not stay or maintain a fixed address in your property.
You can’t have a guest to establish residency in your property without going through the proper channels and officially becoming a tenant. You have not properly screened them. They’re not listed on the lease. You could have trouble evicting them if you end up evicting the tenant who is on the lease.
If that guest is not listed on the lease, you cannot hold them legally accountable for rent payments and other requirements.
Get them on the lease, or make sure you have a legal way to remove them from the property. You’ll need to enlist the help of your tenant, and if things become complicated – an attorney or a Las Vegas property manager can also be helpful.
Rental Laws in Nevada
Unlike neighboring states like California, Nevada is not a state that has created a “bright line rule,” which automatically makes any guest a tenant after they’ve lived in the home for 20 days. Because there is no such law in Nevada, you’ll have to decide how long you’re willing to accommodate a tenant’s guest. Maybe it’s two weeks. Maybe it’s 15 days. Maybe it’s a full month. Write this into the lease agreement and highlight the section when you’re talking to your tenant before they move in.
Lease Language: How to Address Guests
If there’s not already a section in your lease to deal with guests, long term guests, and guests-turned-tenants, we have some ideas of how to introduce that language going forward.
Be proactive in creating this guest policy in your lease agreement, and then be consistent about enforcing it.
Another thing that may help: candid conversation with your tenant. When you have a good tenant relationship in place, managing the uncomfortable guest situation will be a lot easier. Explain what is not allowed in terms of guests, and find out what their intentions are and how long they plan to stay. You want to give your tenant fair warning that they may be violating the lease agreement.
Here’s an example of what to put in your lease regarding guests that may be staying too long.
- Guest Policy and Use of Property
The Premises shall be used and occupied by Tenant(s), exclusively, as a private individual dwelling, and no part of the Premises shall be used at any time during the term of this Agreement by Tenant(s) to carry on any business, profession, or trade of any kind, or for any purpose other than a private dwelling.
Any guest staying in the property more than two weeks in any six-month period will be considered a tenant, rather than a guest, and must be added in the lease agreement. Landlord reserves the right to increase the rent at any such time that a new tenant is added to the lease or premise.
Tenant(s) and guest(s) shall comply with any and all laws, ordinances, rules, and orders of any and all governmental or quasi-governmental authorities affecting the cleanliness, use, occupancy, and preservation of the Premises.
If it gets to the point that you need to send your tenant a notice of noncompliance, you’ll want to be able to reference this section of the lease so they know how to come into compliance. You can change the specifics to suit your own preferences and peace of mind. Maybe you only want to allow a five day visit from guests or maybe you’re willing to accommodate them for a month. Work out what your own boundaries are, and talk to an attorney or a Las Vegas property manager before you make any actual modifications to your lease agreement.
Accepting Rent from Guests
What will you do if the guest staying with your tenant offers you rent money? Or, if they tell you that they don’t want to be added to the lease because they’re not sure how long they’re staying, but they’re happy to pay a couple of hundred dollars every month as long as they’re in residence?
Don’t immediately accept the money that the guest is offering. It could compromise your ability to take any action later.
Here’s the problem and the legal gray area: If you accept rent from a guest, you might be signaling that you’re in a landlord-tenant relationship. By paying rent, your new tenant will no doubt feel entitled to the same rights that any other tenant would have. And, they may be right!
This makes the guest difficult to remove if you decide that eviction is going to be necessary in order to get this “guest” to finally leave. What we’re saying is this: it’s very important that you resist taking rent money from someone who is not on the lease agreement.
Communicating with Tenants about Guests Who May Feel Like Tenants
Enforce your lease. When your guest policy has a hard limit, you can talk to your tenant. Send a letter notifying the tenant that they are in violation of the lease agreement. You can suggest that they come into compliance in one of these ways:
- Requiring the tenant’s guest to leave.
- Inviting the tenant to add the guest to the lease agreement after the guest passes a screening.
- Moving forward with eviction proceedings if the tenant does not choose one of the above options.
As we said earlier in this blog: relationships matter. If you and your tenant barely speak, your tenant is likely to blow off anything you have to say about their guests. But, if you have a good relationship in place with your tenant, a friendly conversation about the guest can usually take care of the issue.
Regardless, it’s important to have the language in the lease in case you need to protect yourself from a guest who has overstayed their welcome.
This is the Las Vegas area, and there are always guests coming and going. A tenant having a friend stay for a few days is no big deal. That friend deciding to stay for an indeterminate amount of time can be a problem.
Let’s continue this conversation. Please contact us at New West Property Management. Our team expertly manages residential rental homes in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.