As a rental property owner in Santa Rosa, you might have to face some stressful situations like unauthorized tenants living on your property. Such tenants don’t go through your screening process. Hence, it is hard to tell if they are fit to occupy your rental. Besides, your house might get over-occupied.
The bottom line is that they are staying on your property illegally and might cause a serious problem in the long run. If you are facing a problem due to unauthorized occupants on your Santa Rosa property, here is a short guide to help you figure out how to resolve this issue.
Let’s begin with understanding who can be classified as unauthorized tenants.
Who Are Unauthorized Occupants?
Any resident who overstays the duration permissible for a visitor and occupies your property without signing a lease is an unauthorized occupant. These occupants may move into your unit with all their belongings, while they have no legal rights to use it as a residence.
The Impact of Unauthorized Tenants on Your Santa Rosa Property
You might have had unauthorized occupants in your home before who haven’t caused any damage to your rental. Hence, you might not be aware of all the problems they can cause in the long run. Here are some of the issues you can face when such residents stay on your Santa Rosa property.
- Property Damages
Illegal occupants can cause any minor or major damages to your property. In addition, if they cause some major damage, like breaking appliances or furniture or stealing something from the property, it can be difficult to hold them responsible for their negligence or abuse.
When the tenants live in your home legally, you can hold them accountable for the property damages and deduct the necessary amount from the security deposit for repairs and replacements. You do not have this option when residents stay in your home illegally. Hence, you will most likely have to pay for the necessary repairs and renovations.
- Non-compliance with the Lease Terms
If the unauthorized residents are your tenant’s guests, still, they might not follow the rules mentioned on the lease, as they are not the ones who signed it. For example, they might bring pets or smoke inside the house, despite a no-pet or non-smoking policy.
They may also avoid reporting the repair issues right away or even replace appliances or furniture with substandard solutions without your permission. Such situations can be stressful for you and possibly lead to hefty financial losses.
- Delayed/ Missed Rent Payments
As complicated as the other aspects of an unauthorized tenancy are, delayed and missed rental payments can be a bigger quandary. Such tenants don’t sign an agreement, hence, aren’t legally obligated to pay the rent on a specific day of a month. As a result, they could cause many issues like late payments, partial payments, or missed payments, thus causing a substantial setback for your cash flow.
- The Threat of Illegal Activities in Your Santa Rosa Unit
You never know what the unauthorized tenants will do with your property. Since they do not go through the essential screening process, they might have a criminal background that shows that they are a potential threat to the neighborhood. They could use your Santa Rosa property for unlawful acts like producing and supplying illegal goods or reselling the stolen goods. If you are an out-of-state landlord, the risk of such actions going unnoticed is higher.
Types Of Unauthorized Occupants On Your Santa Rosa Property & How To Deal With Them
There are different types of unauthorized occupants, and the way to deal with them, or evict them, depends upon how they live in your home. Such residents can be broadly categorized into three types:
1. Long-Term Guests
The guests who stay with the tenants for more than two weeks are typically known as long-term guests. Often, these guests move in with the tenants, shift all their belongings to the property, and even change their mailing address to receive mail in your home. They might share a few expenses but don’t pay a part of the rent, which they should.
- How To Best Handle Long-Term Guests In Your Santa Rosa Rental?
If your tenants have guests, who have started living in your home permanently, you must first confront your tenants. Remind them of the terms on the lease, which mention specific details about the guest policy. Typically, guests can stay in the property for up to 14 days and require the tenants to give you prior information before they visit.
However, if the guests wish to stay for a longer period, the tenants need a written agreement from you. If they have failed to follow this procedure, or if they hide the tenants for the long-term, they might have to pay a heavy penalty. Besides, you also have the right to increase the rent or evict them.
- How To Avoid Such Situations?
To avoid such situations, you must draft a clear guest policy with terms such as:
- The tenants should inform you at least two days before their guests visit.
- If the guests plan to stay longer than 14 days, they should pay an extra fee.
- The tenants must ensure that their guests follow the terms of the lease or bear the fine.
A good rule of thumb is that the clearer the lease terms, the lesser the chances of having unwanted residents on your property.
2. Subletting Tenants
Sometimes tenants sublet your rental property for more financial support, availability of space in your house, or help their family or friends with accommodation. Whatever the reasons may be, once they sublet to other tenants, they form an agreement with them, and your property becomes a casualty of a sublease.
- If You Allow Subletting:
Ask the unauthorized occupants to submit an application like other tenants and screen them thoroughly. If they fit your criteria, allow them to reside in the property and the existing tenants. However, you might want to create a new lease or add their names to the existing lease, take an extra security deposit, and increase the rent price reasonably.
- If You Do Not Allow Subletting:
Take the steps mentioned in the lease. For example, if you have mentioned that you will charge a fine against subletting, you must do so. If it states that you will evict your tenant after two notices, follow the procedure.
Also, do not collect any rent from an unauthorized subtenant because certain landlord-tenant laws may protect them even though they are residing in your unit illegally.
- Preventing Unauthorized Sublet Tenants from Occupying Your Home
Clarify the same in your lease agreement by stating, “subletting is strictly prohibited.” Also, mention the repercussions of subletting, like a few or a rent increase.
Squatters are most commonly the people who break into your vacant property without your permission and use all the appliances and the utilities on the property. They can do whatever they want on your property if you fail to keep an eye on it.
Besides, some laws protect the squatters’ rights, which can be an issue if they live on your property for a very long time. Therefore, it is essential to deal with them through the right plan of action. Here’s what you can do:
- Notify the police
- Provide them with a formal eviction notice
- File an eviction lawsuit
- Remove their belongings
How Can You Protect Your Santa Rosa Property from Squatters?
Some easy yet reliable ways to protect your property against squatters are:
- Keeping an eye on your rental
- Making friends with the neighbors and asking them to inform you if they witness any unusual happenings in the unit
- Getting your property occupied as soon as possible
- Posting signs such as ‘No Trespassing on the gates
- Installing security cameras around the house
Handling unauthorized tenants by yourself can be stressful and difficult. You might not know all the legal eviction procedures or might have to bear with stubborn unauthorized occupants. Therefore, it is best to have an expert like a property manager by your side at such times.
Property managers are trained and skilled at handling all types of tenants. May it be an unauthorized long-term guest or a sublet tenant, they know the right thing to do for your property. Besides, they give your home proper attention to ensure that it never gets occupied by squatters.
To best protect your Santa Rosa property, talk to our experienced property managers at Redwood Residential Property Management. Our experts have been assisting owners in ensuring that their units are never occupied by unauthorized occupants for decades and can help you deal with the problems of unauthorized tenants with ease.
For more information, contact us at Redwood Residential Property Management.