Landlords frequently face a variety of different problems but among the most common and problematic is dealing with subletting. Just because you sign a lease agreement with one tenant does not mean that he or she will not move in a roommate or sublet the apartment to someone else. In most instances, you may not even know about the roommate or the fact that the unit has been sublet until you receive a tipoff from a neighbor or your tenant unwittingly lets the cat out of the bag.
How you handle the problem of a roommate or the unit being sublet will depend upon the terms of your lease. In the event that your lease agreement clearly states that subletting is not allowed without prior authorization from you, then your tenant is violating the terms of the lease agreement.
At this point, you might wonder to yourself where the problem lies if the rent is being paid on time. No harm, no foul, right? Not exactly. The problem that can occur when your tenant allows a roommate to move in or even sublets the apartment without letting you in on that fact is that you have no idea who is living in your unit. When you rented the unit to the original tenant, you probably took great care to run a background check and find out as much information as possible to determine whether he or she would be a trustworthy tenant.
This is information to which you do not have access when your tenant moves in a roommate or elects to sublet the unit. You have no way of knowing whether the additional person or persons living in your unit has ever been convicted of a crime or evicted. This lack of knowledge places you a tremendous risk of liability for any actions that this other person or persons might take. Furthermore, your business and your property are placed at risk, as well.
Tenants may choose to sublet a unit or move in a roommate for a variety of different reasons. Among the most common of those reasons is that they simply did not know that doing so was not allowed. Perhaps they did not read the lease, or maybe they forgot about the part that disallowed subletting. It could be that they are perfectly well aware that they are not allowed to do so but were hoping that you wouldn’t catch them. In other cases, it could be that they have encountered dire financial circumstances and are willing to take the risk in order to be able to pay their rent.
Whatever the case may be, as long as your lease agreement specifically states that subletting or allowing a roommate to move in without prior authorization is not allowed, you likely have legal standing to evict the tenant. If you have such a situation arise, this is also a good time to remind your other tenants about the rules regarding adding roommates or subletting.
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