When writing your lease, consider what you deem to be a reasonable length stay for guests. For some, that might only be a night or two. For other landlords, a week or more could be reasonable. Whatever you decided, spell out in no uncertain terms exactly what you envision for your tenants. In some communities, overnight guests are even required to sign in for security purposes. Opt for whatever works best for your tenants and staff.
Should you discover a tenant is housing an unofficial roommate under the guise of them being a house guest, have an honest conversation about why this is occurring. In some cases, friends fall down on their luck and need a place to crash for a few weeks. It's important to approach these kinds of conversations with grace and kindness. It's not unreasonable to demand more rent for more folks living under your roof, but understanding the need behind the additional, unofficial roommate can help everyone arrive at a reasonable solution.
If you've got an unofficial roommate who is wearing out their welcome, don't be afraid to put your foot down. It's not unreasonable to charge extra rent for the extra roommate, especially if a unit is only intended for a limited number of people. Give a fair warning and then discuss adding the person to the lease. You many even wish to impose some kind of penalty or fee for breaking the rules of the lease. The important thing is to have these policies in place before someone takes advantage of your good nature. Having the lease to point back to with such policies spelled out is a good way to ensure you'll have the upper hand in such circumstances.
- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management