How Long Can Someone Stay Before Being Considered A Tenant?

An issue that frequently causes problems between tenants and landlords are those that come up regarding Guests.  On the one hand, the tenant wants to be able to bring anyone they wish, and on the other, a landlord has to implement some rules for the tenants so that not only respect is maintained for other tenants, but legal rules as well. 

Typically, a guest is no longer considered a guest when they have been there for at least two weeks.  Any guest staying longer than that, and a landlord will ask them to be put on the lease. 

If you are wondering whether or not your guest is pushing the limits with your landlord, keep reading as I will go over the situations that come up the most. 

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Can A Landlord Say No To Overnight Guests?

A Landlord cannot say “No” to overnight guests as long as the guests are really guests and haven’t been staying at the apartment more than 6-7 days a month, or longer than 14 days in a row.

If you have never had an issue with your landlord about an overnight guest, don’t start worrying about it now, you are probably not the problem.  If your guest is REALLY a guest and not someone who has really been acting as somewhat of a roommate, then you have nothing to worry about.  You don’t need to tell your landlord.  Your landlord doesn’t want to know.  

The ONLY case in which an “Overnight Guest” could be deemed a problem is if those guests, or guests indistinguishable from other guests, continually keep coming in and out of the apartment and causing noise or other issues for tenants.  

If you are bringing in different groups of people and are now arguing that THESE guests are the same guests you had been bringing over, you are probably going to get pretty low tolerance from your landlord.  Because the only reason your landlord even KNOWS you have anyone over is that the guests you did have over were making enough commotion and problems that someone called and complained about them. 

Let me be clear, that as a landlord if you are not causing anyone anything to complain about, you can bring as many people in and out as your wish.  It’s once you start infringing upon the rights of OTHER tenants trying to maintain Peaceful Enjoyment that you start running into problems.  

Otherwise, just be respectful, and more than likely you will have no problems with guests of any kind. 

Can A Landlord Ban Guests?

As a rule, a landlord cannot ban guests as long as they are observing the concept of “Quiet Enjoyment” for other tenants and they are not staying longer than 14 days.  

Landlords are primarily concerned with the happiness of their tenants.  This means ALL of their tenants.  If someone is having guests that are coming in and out during all hours of the day and night, and causing noise or safety concerns for other tenants, this gives your landlord something to come down on them for.  

The right to Quiet Enjoyment of your apartment doesn’t supersede your landlord’s right to determine who is on their property or not.  Remember, you are staying on their property, they get to make the rules.   

Your landlord is not going to prevent you from enjoying your apartment if you are not giving them a reason to.  

A tenant has the right to bring people onto the property of the apartment complex as well as their apartment as long as they are respecting the rules of Quiet Enjoyment for the other tenants.   

Remember that your landlord WANTS you to be happy with the apartment.  The more you are happy, the longer you are likely to stay, the less turnover and expenses and hassle they have.  It is normally only when someone else has already complained that they have to step in and do something. 

How Long Can A Renter Have A Guest Stay?

Typically, a tenant can have a guest stay no more than 6-7 days in a given month or more than 14 days in a row in any given period.  

If a tenant wants a guest to stay for longer than this term, then the landlord will probably want them to put on the lease.   There are a couple of reasons for this. 

First, it is an insurance matter.  The insurance carriers that the landlord has, have ruled themselves about how the landlord has to treat their guests in accordance with how long they stay.  If they are staying for more than a couple of weeks, or more than about a week in any given month, then they would be considered “tenants” and have to be treated as such.  

Secondly, the landlord wants there to be responsibility for their property.  Someone that has no connection to the apartment is less likely to treat the apartment kindly and respectfully than tenants who are on the lease.  Once you are on the lease, you have a responsibility and an obligation for your behavior.  

Many people have this issue because their boyfriend or girlfriend stays with them on a regular basis and the landlord is asking for them to be on the lease.  Something like this usually boils down to what is acceptable with the landlord.  If you can talk them into the idea that they are just coming over for the weekend a couple of times a month and a day or so during the week, they may have no problem with it whatsoever.  

If they DO ask someone in your apartment to be added to a lease, just ask yourself whether or not they are staying for more than 14 days at a time or more than 6-7 days during the month.  If so, just put them on the lease.  

Can A Landlord Stop Me From Having Guests?

Your landlord can only stop you from having guests if those guests are causing repeated problems, or if they are staying for longer than 14 days and refuse to be added to the lease agreement. 

Remember, your landlord WANTS you to be happy in your apartment.  The last thing they want to be doing is being your mom.  If you don’t let them have a reason to say something about your guests, then they won’t.  The ONLY time they are going to say something to you is when your guests were out of control or violating quiet time at the complex.  

If guests have been causing problems time and time again, and your landlord has been giving you warnings, both verbal and written, then your landlord CAN prevent those people from being on the property.  You may not like it at this point, but this is where your guests have gotten you in the past, now you are forced to deal with changed conditions.   

Not everyone has the same courtesy for other people as you and your friends do.  And this is why landlords have rules set out for other tenants and their guests, not to pick on you or your friends, but to make sure that EVERYONE has the right to quiet enjoyment of their own apartment.  

Lastly, remember that you are living on someone else’s property when you are in an apartment.  Whether that is the private property of an individual person or a conglomerate that owns a ton of complexes all over the country, they are going to set down some rules that every tenant must abide by.   

These rules are meant to keep as many tenants as possible happy.  And people tend to be happy when they are able to safely and peacefully enjoy their apartment.   The rules only have to be implemented when someone repeatedly breaks them. 

Your landlord cannot just restrict people coming over to your apartment to stay as a guest.  You have many of the same rights living in your apartment as people do who have their own house.  The only thing that is different are the rules for guests outlined in the lease, which are made to protect all the tenants. 

As long as your guests are keeping other tenants in mind by being respectful of them, and the place, and the time they are coming over, you should RARELY have a problem with your guests coming over.

Recommended for You:

Can I Kick Someone Out If They Are Not On The Lease?

What Constitutes a Guest In An Apartment?

Can I Live In An Apartment Without Being on The Lease?

John Boettcher

Co-Founder of Apartment School and a previous renter turned owner of many multi-family properties across the United States, with many years of experience in all aspects of the apartment, real estate, and investing world.

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