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As the title says, but with these details:

I have a rental unit; this situation has come up with a potential tenant. This tenant has an adult daughter, who, the tenant volunteered, has an unstable lifestyle. So, said daughter will be staying in the unit from time to time as a guest -- not an occupant on the lease.

For warned is forearmed, so I intent to add an addendum to the lease stipulating the maximum amount of time a guest can stay on the premises.

The question is, how long should that be? I don't want to be unreasonable, but I do want to avoid her staying so long it becomes "where she lives". Also, should this be a maximum number of days in a row, or a percentage of the lease period? Or both?

Edit, to clarify:
I'm asking about what would be reasonable/customary/expected for a guest limitation to add to the lease, not about legalities (other than if I'm restricted from adding such a stipulation, which I don't think I am), or remedies if I wanted them gone.

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@KirillFuchs it's in Missouri –  Patches Jul 3 '12 at 18:36
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Some jurisdictions have regulations on the maximum number of people that can stay in a unit. You could also look at retirement communities for guidance, they limit the number of nights for people under a certain age. –  mhoran_psprep Jul 3 '12 at 18:41
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If the parent were to want to rent with the child as a co-occupant would you not rent to them? Pretty tough situation, so long as she pays the rent, how would you enforce whatever it is you put in the lease? –  JoeTaxpayer Jul 3 '12 at 18:42
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@JoeTaxpayer I would be a little more hesitant, though I probably would still do it. This tenant stated that she absolutely does not want the daughter living there permanently. The problem I anticipate is the daughter de-facto moving in (intentions, where people's children are concerned, often fall to need), causing a headache for both myself and the tenant. I want to stop that before it starts. The headache for me would be either disrupting the tenant's ability to pay rent, and/or making her want to move to get out of the situation. (She's a grandmother; I'm hoping for a long term tenant) –  Patches Jul 3 '12 at 18:54
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Go with your gut. If the rental market is favorable to you, move on. There's always a risk. I happen to be between tenants right now. I know your situation. –  JoeTaxpayer Jul 3 '12 at 19:02
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4 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Edit:

What is a reasonable and/or customary time frame to allow them to keep a guest?

"Whats customary" - is relative to interpretation. So if you're just trying to be nice I'd say 10 days or two weeks is enough. In your state a guest at a lodge, motel, or hotel is defined as someone who stays for less then 31 days.

"Permanent guest", any person who rents and occupies a guest room in a lodging establishment for a period of thirty-one days or more;

Source - Hotel, Motel and Resort Regulations

Additional information:

If there is no agreement about guests, or who can occupy the property then you may be unable to force the tenant to restrict them from having a guest stay there.

However here is some information that might help you gain leverage in the situation - Chapter 441 Landlord and Tenant Section 441.740

If the guest is involved in criminal activity on the property you can then restrict the tenant from allowing that guest back on the property. Also if you have a "No Smoking" policy and the guest is a smoker you might also be able to use that as leverage.

I suggest consulting a lawyer in your area for legal information.

Some additional resources:

Ezlandlordforms - You might be able to get a more detailed answer from the forums here.

Search Missouri Statues - You can search Missouri Statues here.

OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL
CHRIS KOSTER
P.O. Box 899
Jefferson City, MO 65102
573-751-3321
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Not exactly an answer to my question. I just wanted to know what was a reasonable and/or customary time frame to allow them to keep a guest. You know -- 10 days? no more than 25% of the lease period? That kind of thing. –  Patches Jul 3 '12 at 20:03
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"Whats customary" - is relative to interpretation. So if you're just trying to be nice I'd say 10 days or two weeks is enough. In your state a guest at a lodge, motel, or hotel is defined as someone who stays for less then 31 days. Added this to the answer –  Kirill Fuchs Jul 3 '12 at 20:09
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+1 to for the time definition of a guest in a hotel. I did not know that. :) –  Patches Jul 3 '12 at 20:12
    
@Patches I don't think there is a "standard" or "customary" number for this. Leases have tremendous variation and many don't even mention guests. That said, I think Kirill's advice is indeed "reasonable." Work with the tenant to reach a solution, but look out for your own interests and try to avoid nasty situations before they arise. –  Steven Jul 3 '12 at 21:36
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@Patches This is probably the best answer you will find, short of consulting an attorney. Kirill's answer is very good. I lived in a co-op of 16 one-bedroom residences that was run exclusively by the 16 of us (owners) in Florida. We had exactly the problem you are concerned about. The co-op electricity, water and gas costs increased because one of the 16 had her daughter and 3 grandchildren "temporarily" living w/her, but only payed utilities for one person. The other units were owned by disabled women and low-income retirees. The cost shifting was too high (and unfair) to carry long-term. –  Feral Oink Jul 3 '12 at 23:32
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Here is a Missouri standard lease agreement: It included the following clause:

USE OF PREMISES. The Premises shall be used and occupied by Tenant and Tenant's immediate family, consisting of __________ _____________ _____, exclusively, as a private single family dwelling, and no part of the Premises shall be used at any time during the term of this Agreement by Tenant for the purpose of carrying on any business, profession, or trade of any kind, or for any purpose other than as a private single family dwelling. Tenant shall not allow any other person, other than Tenant's immediate family or transient relatives and friends who are guests of Tenant, to use or occupy the Premises without first obtaining Landlord's written consent to such use. Tenant 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.

I did find a document from the Missouri state government Landlord-Tenant Law

Interesting sections:

  • Allows a landlord to double the rent when a tenant lets another person take over the premises without the landlord’s permission.
  • Limits occupancy to two persons per bedroom except for children born during the lease period.

It appears you can just add the following section (I stole this language from a Hawaii document): Guests may not stay longer than fourteen (14) days without prior written approval of the LANDLORD

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You really shouldn't be giving specific legal advice on an internet forum. Circumstances vary by state and locality... NYS law (Real Property Law Section 235-f) says than an unrelated guest turns into an "occupant" 30 days after they establish occupancy. If you put that Hawaii lease clause in, a NY judge would toss you out of court. –  duffbeer703 Jul 7 '12 at 22:34
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My lease in Missouri (from about two years ago) listed those who could reside in the apartment for the duration of the lease by name (and also allowed children born to the listed residents after the commencement of the lease to reside there). Guests were permitted for a maximum of 14 days (on a one-year lease). Additional time was not permitted, period: it was a cause for termination of lease.
Also, drug-dealing by residents or guests during their stay in the apartment was cause for termination of the lease. But the landlord was a large commercial firm with many buildings and over one thousand apartments rented out, not an individual operating on a smaller scale.

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Talk to a local attorney who does real estate work, or find another tenant. Regulation of apartments often vary from locality to locality, particularly if you are in a city of significant size or age.

There are all sorts of potential pitfalls that you can step into. Generally speaking, discretion is the better part of valor in these circumstances.

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