Talk With Landlord About
Overnight Guest Clause
I live off campus in a one-bedroom apartment. It's the converted
attic of an old home. My landlord lives on the bottom floor. So
he pretty much knows what goes on in the place. Here's my problem:
I have a long-term girlfriend and she sleeps here a lotmaybe
two or three times a week. My landlord's noticed this and he's not
happy. He says that my lease limits the amount of times I can have
an overnight guest to fifteen a year (I checked, it does say that).
Can he do this? Don't I have a right to have whoever I want visit
me? What should I do?
Shaun, Senior, Public College or University, California
Well, you're really asking me two questions here. Can you have
whoever you want visit your apartment? Absolutely. So long as they
don't disturb the other tenants, anyone you choose can come over
whenever you feel like having them. But can they spend the night?
Well, if it says fifteen's the limit in your lease, then no; you're
bound by that.
I know. It seems really strange that your landlord can dictate
such personal things. But it's not the personal part that's at issue
here. It's the impact on the apartment. Frequent overnight guests
(or really, unauthorized roommates) increase the wear and tear on
the unit and have an increased impact on the other tenants _ two
people use more water, make more noise, throw out more garbage,
So that's why it's perfectly legal for your landlord to put occupancy
limits in place. Imagine if that weren't the case. The poor guy
couldn't do a thing if you, say, moved fifteen of your cousins in
In college towns these types of clauses are pretty common. They're
almost always included when the landlord himself lives in the building.
But, I bet none of that will make it any easier for you to tell
your Boo to hit the road. So here's what I'd do if I were you.
Go talk to your landlord and try to work something out. Tell him
that you understand that having your girlfriend around isn't without
consequences. Offer to pay a little more rentmaybe fifty bucks
a monthor suggest that you put down a larger security deposit.
I'd also think hard about you and your girlfriend's habits. Your
landlord may not object to her presence, per se. It may be something
else that annoys him. Is there anything potentially irritating that
you and she do when she's over? Like, I don't know, cranking Barry
White music late at night. If so, tell him it'll stop.
Do whatever you can to cut a deal, because if he really wants to
be a jerk about it, he can be.
And one more thing Mr. Long-Term Girlfriend: the next time you
sign a lease, read the damned thing. This whole thing probably could
have been avoided either by negotiating up-front, or finding a different,
more hospitable place.
The material in this column addresses general
legal issues only; is not legal advice and should not be relied
on as such; and may or may not be appropriate to a specific situation.
Laws and procedures change frequently and are subject to differing
interpretations. This column is not intended to create, and does
not create, a lawyer-client relationship and is not intended to
substitute for legal counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.