Q: I’ve allowed a college friend to stay at my rented home for some time, without paying rent or utilities. My friend changed his address on his ID cards to my address, and gets mail here. I’ve asked him to move on but he shows no signs of doing so. Does he have any tenant rights? If I need to get heavy, how can I evict him? –Betsy S.
A: You’re in a difficult position. Not only do you have an unwelcome house guest, but, depending on the terms and conditions of your lease, you may have a problem with your landlord, as well. Ironically, the landlord may be in the best position to bail you out.
First, is your freeloading friend a resident (with some legal rights) or a guest? That depends on a number of factors. That he pays you no rent or utilities suggests guest status; changing his ID and receiving mail at your house suggest tenant status. If your landlord is aware of his presence and seems to have accepted it, this may give him resident status too. For now, let’s assume that he’s no longer a guest, but has become a legal resident of some sort. Question is, what sort?
Most leases prohibit subletting — renting all or part of your rental to a third person — without the landlord’s consent. Landlords do this in order to make sure that they have an opportunity to screen all residents. Landlords who trust their tenants, or who are convinced that the situation will be short-lived, may agree to the sublet.