Ask the attorney is a feature with attorney Bradley S. Kraus and this week the question is about tenants with unauthorized guests. If you have a question for him, please feel out the form below.
Dear Attorney Brad:
I have a tenant who is the only one on the lease. She now has another person staying there (more than a month), who has been sneaking in at the end of the day, parking down the street, etc.
I do not have a problem with the tenant having another, only that the second person has not been “vetted” and is not on the lease. It is not fair to others in the building.
I don’t know if this is because the tenant has subsidized housing and doesn’t want to lose it, but all individuals living in the building must be background-checked, at the very least. And if her guest is not credit-checked and on the lease, if she leaves, am I then stuck with a squatter I cannot get rid of? Advice would be great. –Claire
Unauthorized guests are problematic issues for landlords to deal with, as they are notoriously difficult to prove.
Additionally, with the advent of Oregon SB 282, guests are effectively allowed to stay at the premises for 15 days in any 12-month period. Assuming you can prove that the 15-day threshold has been exceeded, landlords do have rights under SB 282.
First, you are allowed to have the unauthorized individual screened using your criteria. Additionally, you can require a temporary-occupancy agreement to be entered into, pursuant to ORS 90.275, but that temporary-occupancy agreement cannot end prior to February 28, 2022.
If neither of those items are occurring, a Notice of Termination for Cause may be in order. Again though, it’s important to remember that without proving the 15-day benchmark—which your tenant will undoubtedly deny—you won’t be able to invoke the above rights.
There are a number of reasons why a tenant may not want to disclose their unauthorized occupants.
If a tenant is on subsidized housing, it may violate the terms of their contract with the housing-assistance provider. Alternatively or additionally, the unauthorized occupant may have a criminal history that would fail screening. If you can get over the 15-day benchmark, you may have rights.
But remember, it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.
Brad Kraus is a partner at Warren Allen LLP. His primary practice area is landlord/tenant law, but he also assists clients with various litigation matters, probate matters, real estate disputes, and family-law matters. A native of New Ulm, Minnesota, he continues to root for Minnesota sports teams in his free time.
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