In March of this year, we rented our single family house to a woman with 4 children ages 4 to 12. She is separated/divorcing her husband and has joint custody of the children (so the children are there part time only). She works as a registered nurse usually for 12+ hour overnight shifts.
Our concern is that her two brothers are continually “visiting”. We we discussed the situation with her, she said her brothers “occasionally” stay over to “help with the kids.” Neighborhood parking is limited and we have gotten complaints from the neighbors, including a nasty note one brother left on a neighbor’s car. We have started to drive by around 6 am to see which cars are present. This morning, there were at least 3 cars (2 in driveway plus tenant’s car on the street) so it appears both brothers stayed over.
The lease she signed is the standard California Association of Realtors lease which says nothing about visitors, only no subletting. According to the tenant, the brothers are visitors and she is paying the rent. She is used to owning a home and not having to answer to a landlord. The rent is being paid on time.
Should we be concerned and if so, what recourse do we have?
Your recourse is limited. Eviction is your only tool. In the future add a clause in your lease that added tenants will be charged an extra $100-200/ month. Same with pets. Tenants staying more than 3 days a month is considered a lease violation. Good luck enforcing it.
Our lease included a visitors clause that required anyone staying over a week to have a background check and be put on the lease. Obviously I didn’t do that when my parents stayed, but it was there in case they needed it. Maybe you could include that when you renew? Or are you on a month to month lease now?
Unfortunately, what you’ve said–kids at home overnight while she works oldest is 12–indicates that at least one adult will need to be in the house every night she works while kids are in her care. My understanding is that these overnight shifts pay more, so this is probably necessary to make ends meet. If CPS found out the kids were alone at night and the oldest is 12, she could get in trouble. If her divorce proceedings included any nastiness regarding who got the kids and how often, her husband will be watching like a hawk. I don’t want to throw this woman under bus because that kind of scrutiny sucks, but in your case, you can use this to your advantage as in “You say the brothers are visitors, but I understand that you need them to be with your kids whenever you’re working. Which makes them occupants. They’re not on the lease. I expect them to be on their VERY BEST BEHAVIOR at all times. And if you have issues with the neighbors you come to me first. Thank you.” You might even just tell her that she needs to put them on the lease and you want to run a background check if that is what you want.
I want to be clear, I am NOT recommending ever that you call CPS on this woman without actually thinking that the kids are in real imminent danger. Because CPS is notorious for not giving kids back, unnecessarily medicating them for profit, and kids being sexually and physically abused in foster care. The whole situation regarding illegal immigrant detainees is possible because we treat our own kids in foster care like crap and the presumption is that parents are guilty until proven innocent in the courts. Even missing a court date because they never sent you the notice can be what gets kids permanently removed without real evidence of wrongdoing. It’s a sucky system. But in this case, her situation is a leverage point for you.
Thanks for the replies. The lease is up in about 7 months. When she moved in, our assumption was that she would work when the (ex)husband has the kids. Her job pays well so that she does not have to work full time, and she has told us that she prioritizes her kids so only works enough to cover expenses.
Visitors clauses are tricky. Our previous tenant would have two sets of out of state parents visiting for 1-2 weeks, but then they would be gone for months. This wasn’t a huge concern. I am trying to be fair here, but I feel that she wasn’t very up front with who would be hanging out at the house at all hours.
That’s why I prefer month-to-month agreements. 30 or 60 day notice is all it takes, 90 days for section-8.
I tell prospective tenants that the rental rate is the same whether they sign a 1 year lease or go month-to-month, and that I can put it in the rental contract that I won’t raise their rent for 12 months.
After I say that, nobody has insisted on a lease.