When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?

When Does a Guest Become a Tenant?

September 27, 2023, 5:57 pm blog-header-image

It can be daunting to manage tenants especially if you are a first-time landlord. However, even after much preparation there are always unique issues that you may not have anticipated but will need to deal with eventually.

Some of these issues include someone living in your property without having a lease. It’s easy to cross the line between tenants and guests especially in residential properties. A tenant may have invited a relative or friend to their spaces for a while. Other times a tenant may have their significant other moves in without making it clear with the property owner.

In this article, you’ll learn important steps to undertake when dealing with a guest who has stayed too long.

The Difference Between a Tenant and a Guest

A tenant, by definition, is an individual who is listed on a lease agreement as the rightful person who occupies a given unit in a property. They must also abide by the regulations in the agreement. A guest, however, is an individual who occupies a space by invitation of a tenant for a period of time and is not in a binding agreement with the landlord.

Oftentimes, the tenants’ rights cover all the guests that they may bring over during the period of their lease. However, it’s important to note that a guest cannot establish residency in a unit without the landlord’s permission or knowledge.

guest becoming a tenant

When a Guest Becomes a Tenant

According to rental law, a guest can be considered a tenant after consecutive stays in the unit for a given period. The duration of stay often varies from state to state. However, the length of time is not the only determining factor. If a guest has established proof of occupancy in a given property that is also a sign that they are moving more towards tenant privileges.

How Long Can a Tenant Have a Guest Over For?

Depending on the terms of your lease, the period of time a tenant can host a guest may vary. You should therefore be careful as a landlord when setting the rules on hosting guests on your property. Generally speaking, a guest can stay in a rental for about ten to fourteen days.

Other than differences in the lease document what state laws define as a guest may also differ. You should therefore ensure to check with your state laws in order to know the right time period for the guests on your property.

Signs that Guests are Crossing into Tenant Territory

Guest do not pay rent in exchange for occupying a rental unit. However, rental payments aren’t the only way to guarantee tenancy.

signs that a guest is more of a tenant

As a landlord, you may determine a guest is crossing the tenancy lines if they:

  • Consistently stay overnight - If a guest regularly stays in a unit overnight the landlord may assume that they are no longer temporary visitors.
  • Change their address or receive mail to the unit - A standard guest usually doesn’t have packages, letters, and subscriptions frequently delivered to a temporary residence. Receiving mail to a certain location can serve as legal evidence of occupancy.
  • Relocated assets - If a guest starts moving in furniture, belongings, and pets into the unit, this is a strong sign that the guest is slowly transitioning to becoming a tenant.

Examples of Tenants and Guests

Below are some examples to help you further understand the various types of guests:

  • Parents, relatives, and children - You can consider college kids who are home for short periods of time such as weekends or spring breaks as guests. This consideration can be made for divorced couples with shared custody where the children are away from home longer than the period they are around. However, if they stay at home for a long period, they can then become tenants.

guests in your rentals

  • Friends and/ or significant others - Romantic partners or friends who spend the night or occasionally stay for a few days can be considered guests. However, if they spend most days and that slowly transitions into weeks and even months in the unit, they can be said to be tenants.
  • Nannies and babysitters - If a tenant has a nanny or a babysitter who only visits for a few hours either during the day or in the evening then those can be classified as guests. However, if the nanny lives with the tenant family then they are classified as tenants.

How to Prevent Guests from Becoming Tenants

As a landlord, you want to know when you’re hosting more people than you actually thought. With more tenants, you are bound to pay more in terms of maintenance costs and utilities.

Below are some of the ways a landlord can avoid the issue of a guest becoming a tenant:

Examine Your Lease Agreement

Read through your lease agreement. Does it have a “use of premises” clause? You need to add this to the lease agreement and have it signed by your Florida tenant. It defines how each tenant uses the space, limiting the number of guests, and states exactly how long they can stay over.

looking over lease agreements

Ensure that Your Tenants Understand Their Responsibility

Educating your tenants on their responsibilities and ensuring that they understand them is important. Tenants may to not be fully aware of the regulations, so to avoid any conflict or miscommunication, ensure that you go through the lease document with your tenants as they move in.

You should also emphasize the consequences if a tenant fails to meet their responsibilities.


As a landlord, you want to be sure that a tenants' guests don’t overstay their welcome. To prevent this issue be sure to carefully craft your lease agreement and go through it in detail with your tenants before they move in.

If you would like help with your lease agreement or managing your rental properties reach out to the experts at Suncastle Properties. Located in Florida, we are the leading property management company in the area. You can contact us for help regarding any real estate management inquiries that you may have.

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