Undeclared phantom tenant... what to do?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by oatlylatte, 20th May, 2020.

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  1. oatlylatte

    oatlylatte New Member

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    My existing 1 bedder apartment has been leased out since Oct 2019 to a single male tenant. I've had a string of changes in property managers. My latest one just sent me photos of the latest inspection, and I suspected that a second person has likely been living in the premises - later confirmed to be the tenant's girlfriend.

    The property agent has contacted the tenant, who claims his girlfriend does indeed stay over "couple times a week". But doesn't "live in" with him. The agent too, seems to be siding with tenant and asserts that he has not breached the contract.

    I am personally quite certain this constitutes a breach of the agreement as "maximum number of occupants" has been agreed to be "no more than (one) persons may ordinarily live at the premises at any one time (standard WA rental agreement wording).

    What should I do next if the agent continues to assert against this?
    Should I issue a breach notice next and should I seek legal advice prior to this?
    I do wish to settle this amicably as I just think rental should account for the expenses/depreciation related to two and not one person living in the premises.

    Also, should I be pressing for the second tenant to be officially named in contract?

    Appreciate any advice or shared experiences please!
     
  2. bunkai

    bunkai Well-Known Member

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    Really you should double the rent.
     
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  3. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Its probably not a breach even if she was living there full time, and even if its a technical breach, not one that you can do anything legally about.

    If you want, you can perhaps ask the tenant nicely for her details or for her to be put on the agreement.
     
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  4. Trainee

    Trainee Well-Known Member

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    Grey area, but really doesnt seem like a big deal. If the tenant earns enough to pay the rent by himself, monitor it but dont think its a breach. Not legal opinion, just being reasonable.

    In other words, chill.
     
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  5. Pumpkin

    Pumpkin Well-Known Member

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    We have a similar situation... 2-Bedder with a couple, plus a male friend.
    But now we suspect this "single" male has someone staying. But it's hard to establish how much time she was there......
    Was wondering whether we can use the Fire Dept as a reason to have a full record of all Residents.
    Some people just want to take advantage. Hope they can sleep soundly.
     
  6. oatlylatte

    oatlylatte New Member

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    Absolutely what it is, taking advantage.
    Can't believe the things I'm reading here, about the legal contract having no legal implications... And how many are opining that it isn't even a breach. The legal wording is clear as day to me. And if one extra is not a breach, then is 2, or 3, or 10 extra squatters?? Geez.
    Let me know what you're doing about the situation and good luck.
     
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  7. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    There's a huge difference between girlfriend staying over, even most nights each week, and ten extras.
     
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  8. The Gambler

    The Gambler Well-Known Member

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    That turned quick! Haha.
    If you feel your PM isn't doing the right thing here, then definitely contact the relevant agencies.

    I do know that some renters sublet and that's a big problem, but again, it's hard to prove unless you can catch them out. Sub-letting is scummy but it happens and without a doubt insurance wise it's not good. This situation seems to be a little different in that it's a girlfriend.

    Is there an insurance situation here? There could be, I don't know the laws.

    As for rent though, I'd doubt you'd get more rent out of it. Unless you're letting to students or the like. If it doesn't change the rent, then maybe ask the tenant to add her for insurance reasons.

    As you say the law is clear, but how do you prove she is living there and not just staying over?
     
  9. Pumpkin

    Pumpkin Well-Known Member

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    I guess our situation is a little different... from 1 person to 2 persons, that's 100% or double, in the old language.
    But from 3 persons to 4... Sigh...
     
  10. Mark F

    Mark F Well-Known Member

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    The only real extra costs of an extra body are water and power. I assume your tenants are paying for them and they are not rolled up in the rent. Otherwise for phantom tenants call Ghostbusters.
     
  11. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    I'd ask them if the person is there permanently and have her name added to the lease. Rent should be market rate and that doesn't change for one or two people.
     
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  12. New Town

    New Town Well-Known Member

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    Put it in the next lease - no girlfriends
     
  13. qak

    qak Well-Known Member

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    A 1-bedroom unit would not generally be considered inappropriate for a couple.
     
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  14. Westminster

    Westminster Tigress at Tiger Developments Business Member

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    I'm curious why the lease would say 1 person only for a one bedroom dwelling. Mine tend to say 2.
    To be honest I would also accept a 2 tenants and a baby in a one bedroom place.
    You've asked to share my experience and my experience would be as a landlord that it doesn't concern me. The original tenant is responsible for the rent and any damages. If their girlfriend/boyfriend does any damage then the tenant is responsible. There is negligable extra wear and tear and I don't believe SAT would consider it a breach nor that you are allowed to charge more rent because there is an additional person living there full time or part time.
    I own 9 properties that are one bedders. None of them have a restriction of one person only on them.
     
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  15. Beano

    Beano Well-Known Member

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    Or boyfriend
    Or Siamese twins :)
     
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  16. jaydee

    jaydee Well-Known Member

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    There is no breach that you can prove. The RTA wording may state "no more than one person may ordinarily live at the premises", but that is different to how many occupants there may be at any one time.

    For example:
    • "Girlriend/Boyfriend A" may stay over 3 nights per week with "girlfriend/boyfriend B" staying over the other 4 nights (or girlfiend/boyfriend ABCDEFG ... you get my drift)
    • Aunty Jean and the 3 kids may visit for one night every now and then
    Proving that someone else lives there is near impossible unless you obtain proof and even if you did what would you expect to achieve?

    I suggest you either do not review the lease or if you do renew, ensure the rent is market value and also have the 2nd person added to the lease agreement.

    Personally, I'm not sure what the issue is, just plan for dual occupancy.
     
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  17. thatbum

    thatbum Well-Known Member

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    Jeez, none of that matters. She could move in permanently and it would make no difference.

    Repeat - not a breach.

    Some lessors here need to get a reality check as to what a grant of tenancy is. If you want to control every aspect of how your tenants live, then you're in the wrong business. Go run a short stay let or something.
     
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  18. MB18

    MB18 Well-Known Member

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    Is there REALLY a problem here? What sort of expense increases are worring you?

    If the room can fit a double bed, I would suggest the property can occupy two people as it was designed to.

    Other than the potential of being in breach of your one person rule (which would impossible to prove anyway) what are you hoping to acheive?

    If you are letting the room out in a boarding house scenario then fair enough, if you are simply renting a one bedroom apartment and worried there are two people there I would politlely suggest there are bigger problems in the world.
     
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  19. MWI

    MWI Well-Known Member

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    Totally agree. So a tenant that is single now cannot have a person over, really?
    As landlord I am not there to micro manage my tenant's personal life.
    As long as the tenant pays, maintains, and does not re-let or allow additional many hoarders I really have no business to interfere into their personal life (he still would be responsibly for all the obligations as per contract lease).
    Recently one of my opportunistic tenants requested a rental reduction. I was told by my property manager he just got married few months ago and also his spouse resides there who was let go. So whether his wife or girlfriend they are allowed to lead a personal life.
    Are we saying now well no single is allowed to have any one else sleeping over really?
    Too many landlords look from emotional point of view rather than professional point of view, IMHO?
     
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  20. Perp

    Perp Well-Known Member

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    The purpose of a maximum occupancy provision is to protect the landlord in case the number of occupants creates illegality, eg breach of fire regulations. If it's 2 but the tenant sneaks a third in and they die in a fire due to overcrowding, the landlord may have some defence to point to the agreement and argue that they tried to keep tenants safe.

    But it's not about a landlord's desires.
    If there's no regulatory basis for the specified maximum occupancy, the clause has no effect.