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Multiple Tenant Issues

Navigation:  Home > Landlord & Tenant Law > Multiple Tenant Issues


There are a myriad of problems that arise where there are multiple tenants involved. For instance, where four college students rent an apartment, but only one of the students signs a lease or where a married couple rents, but only one of the spouses sign the lease. The problem arises where issues arise involving the occupants that have not signed a lease.

These problems generally revolve around whether or not the residents are considered a guest or a occupants. A guest, for instance, cannot sue the landlord for failing to make repairs. Also, a landlord cannot sue guests for unpaid rent.

Thus, in deciding whether a resident is a guest or an occupant, a court will generally look at several factors, including the length of the residency, the purpose of the residency, whether the resident has his or her own furniture, and whether there was a specific agreement with the resident. For instance, where a girlfriend spends several nights at the tenant's residence, but the moves her furniture into the property, then the status might change from guest to occupant.

To avoid confusion, everyone involved should sign the lease. Otherwise, where a landlord accepts rent from someone not on the lease, the landlord could be acceding to that person's occupancy. The occupant then gains rights against the landlord similar to the tenants. But, then again, the landlord may not have rights against the occupant, such as an ability to evict or sue for unpaid rent.

The lease provisions should also spell out subletting and assignment rights. Or provide that a subletter or assignee cannot move in without written permission. Also, if a lease states that all the tenants are jointly and severably liable for the rent, if the landlord is unable to get the rent from one tenant, he or she is able to get that person's rent from the other tenants.

Because of the murkiness of this issue, and the statutory distinction between states, if this problem arises, the tenant or landlord is best served to find an attorney.

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