How Long Can A Tenant Have A Guest Stay?

A couple welcoming another couple into their rental property

It is common for a tenant to have guests stay with them. But what length of time is considered acceptable for tenant guests? Visitors who stay for an extended period can cause problems for landlords in any number of ways. So how long can a tenant have a guest stay over without causing any issues?

As a general rule, tenants cannot have guests stay for more than 14 days in a six week period. Specific clauses will be written in the contract. Tenants are advised to check the terms within their tenancy agreement if they are unsure how long they can accommodate visitors.

The rental agreement should have a clause regarding tenants’ guests and visitors to protect the property and landlord from unauthorised occupants. So the tenant must understand the terms of the agreement before moving into their new home.

Tenants should check the guest policy and be especially careful about letting people stay longer than they are supposed to.

Restrictions are not put in place for tenants because landlords are mean and grumpy, nor are landlords wanting to infringe on a tenant’s rights. Instead, landlords have many responsibilities when they let property in the private rented sector.

Firstly, the landlord or property manager must carry out a ‘Right to Rent’ check before someone moves into their property. This includes checking passports or other ID documents to make sure the individual has a right to rent and live in the UK.

British passport used for right to rent check

This is because a tenant who allows a house guest to stay in the property for an extended period could potentially cause the landlord to break the law.

Landlords can be fined up to £3,000 per person living in their rental property and who do not have a right to rent.

Secondly, landlords have to ensure they do not breach the terms and conditions of their mortgage, selective licensing or HMO licence if applicable.

In short, tenants may not be aware of the restrictions that a landlord has to adhere to. They don’t necessarily need to know all the restrictions either.

What tenants do need to know and pay close attention to is the terms and conditions of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement.

To avoid legal action, the right to rent requirement alone should be enough to make everybody think twice about allowing anyone to stay in their property for an extended period.

Landlords don’t want to spend their time or get involved with, restricting the number of friends or family members that the tenant invites into their home. So landlords need to ensure there are relevant clauses in the tenancy agreement that states how long a guest can stay.

Tenants who plan on having guests stay longer than the agreed amount of time within their tenancy agreement should contact their landlord immediately.

While some tenants may break the rules of the tenancy agreement, it’s possible they do not know they are violating the terms when guests stay for an extended time, so landlords should remain vigilant at all times.

Tenants may allow a friend to crash on the sofa whilst they look for a job or allow a family member to stay while looking for a new home. Regardless of whether the guest is staying on a temporary or short term basis, they should check the terms of their tenancy.

Suppose the long-term visitor is in a romantic relationship with the tenant. In that case, the landlord should consider adding them to the tenancy agreement. This will help protect themselves and their rental unit as the additional tenant will have signed to agree to the lease terms.

Rental property owners and managers should seek legal advice if they are unsure about the circumstances regarding a tenant’s guest who appears to be staying long term. This will help to protect the property whilst maintaining tenant rights.

Can A Landlord Stop A Tenant From Having Visitors?

In most cases, landlords cannot stop a tenant from having visitors or limiting the number of visitors. Additionally, tenants who rent an entire property and have exclusive possession of the property on an Assured Shorthand Tenancy or Joint Tenancy agreement can invite anyone to visit their home.

However, guests should be respectful and follow the same rules expected of the tenant. For example, not playing loud music and causing a disturbance during unsociable hours or other anti-social behaviour or illegal activities. If they did, the landlord would be within their rights to ask them to leave the property.

Neighbour annoyed by the sound of loud music

Whilst landlords cannot ban a person from entering a tenant’s home, if there are repeat incidents, the landlord may decide to not renew the tenant’s lease agreement or even serve an eviction notice before the written lease expires.

Both the landlord and potential tenant are advised to check the clauses within the tenancy agreement regarding visitors and long term guests. They must agree to any proposed changes before the document is signed and comes into effect.

Can A Landlord Say No To Overnight Guests?

Landlords cannot stop tenants from having overnight guests staying at their home. Having an overnight short-term guest will only become an issue if the tenant requests rent payments from the guest and/or the guest ends up staying for longer than 14 nights in a six week period.

Tenants who take money from guests are essentially sub-letting the property, which would break the terms of use and conditions of the tenancy agreement. Landlords can also not charge a visitor for staying overnight.

Landlords concerned about the length of stay for a visitor should talk to the tenant and consider adding the visitor to the tenancy agreement. By doing this, they could also raise the rent as having additional people living at the property will likely cause more wear and tear.

Of course, this would only be accepted if the original tenants and proposed new tenant agree to the terms of the lease.

But more importantly, it’s in the landlord’s best interest to be aware of overnight guests as additional people living at the property could be a breach of the mortgage or insurance, terms and conditions.

When Does A Guest Become A Tenant?

A long-term guest becomes a tenant when they regularly stay overnight and sleep at the property, have mail sent to the address, move furniture or personal belongings into the property, or have a key to gain entry to the property.

Landlords who notice any of these behaviours should take action and consider the eviction process as the long-term guests may have turned into tenants.

These types of common scenarios are very common with a tenant who is spending more time with their romantic partner.

If they are happy to do so, landlords should contact the tenant and offer to amend the tenancy agreement to reflect there is an additional person occupying the property.

Amending the tenancy agreement will start a process to ensure the landlord is adhering to any regulations that may be enforced.

It will remind the landlord to conduct a ‘Right to Rent’ check and prompt them to carry out referencing and background checks on the new tenant once they have their personal information.

In addition to ensuring that they adhere to all regulations, they should also check that their insurance policy is still suitable when additional tenants move into their rental properties.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker is a property investor and landlord with 20 years of experience, providing free education to help others start or improve their Buy-To-Let business.

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