UNAUTHORIZED OCCUPANT NOT CAUSING A PROBLEM
At any given moment, people who are not authorized occupants or residents on a lease are living in an apartment with the authorized resident. This is just a fact of life. Possibly the occupant is there on a temporary basis or just has decided to move in with the resident. Often the occupant is there for a long period of time, uses the amenities, makes repair requests, stops by the office and pays the rent and acts just like an authorized occupant or resident. The unauthorized person become familiar to staff, and many of the staff members have no idea the person is not in fact authorized.
The Resident And The Unauthorized Occupant
A resident who allows an unauthorized occupant to reside on the premises is in default of the lease and is blatantly disregarding the terms of the lease. That resident is no different than the resident who gets the unauthorized pet, parks improperly, causes a disturbance or does not pay rent. They are in default, pure and simple.
Why Do We Treat The Unauthorized Resident Lightly?
Usually if a property manager is not dealing with a HUD property or Low Income Housing Tax Credit Property, an unauthorized occupant is overlooked. If the resident is paying the rent, the property is kept up, there are not an excessive number of residents in a unit, occupancy is low, and parking is adequate, a property manager will overlook the unauthorized occupant.
The Huge Danger of Overlooking the Unauthorized Occupant
An unauthorized occupant is living on the premises without having gone through the normal credit or criminal background check. He or she may have an extensive criminal record, or even be a sexual offender or predator. The property manager has no idea of this and would have almost certainly turned this person does under normal application screening procedures. Nevertheless, the mystery person is now living on the premises.
The Unauthorized Occupant is Locked Out And Needs To Be Let In
One of our clients recently had a situation in which a woman that the maintenance tech recognized needed the maintenance tech to open the apartment in the early morning hours, as she had locked herself out. Since she was familiar looking to the maintenance tech, as she had lived on the property for quite some time, he opened up the apartment for her. She then decided to remove everything of value from the apartment. Later that day, the actual resident came home to find all his items of value taken, and the maintenance tech admitted he had let the woman in the night before. Problem? She was not an authorized occupant, and maintenance had no right letting her into the unit. Liability? What do you think?
A Recent Tragic Case Underscoring Potential Liability
Here is the scenario. This same scenario can apply to a resident renting in a condominium or single family home. An unauthorized occupant becomes familiar to the staff and has resided on the property for some time. The unauthorized occupant kills another resident in the apartment community. Is the apartment community liable? Over the next couple years, this exact case will be tried and a jury will decide. How would you decide?
We strongly urge that you take an unauthorized occupant seriously and consider it a serious lease default. If you wish to authorize this person, please read the article Authorizing the Unauthorized Occupant and take the steps to authorize the occupant if you so desire. Otherwise, serve your Seven Day Notice With Opportunity to Cure, refuse any rent payments, call your attorney, and evict everyone if the resident refuses to remove the unauthorized occupant. Remember that once you know there is or was an unauthorized occupant, make sure you follow up to confirm that the person is truly gone and not just being more careful about being caught.
- The Curable Noncompliance Examined PART 1
- THE CURABLE NONCOMPLIANCE EXAMINED PART 2
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION – WHAT IT IS
- THE WRIT OF POSSESSION AND THE FULL UNIT
- WORK ORDER COMPANY POLICY AND THE LAW