Is it legal for a person who is staying at your house to decide that they are not going to leave, even if you ask them to? June is National Homeowners Month, so let's take a look at a potential nightmare for homeowners. Many homeowners have opened their doors to a family member or friend who needs a place to stay while they get back on their feet. Or, some homeowners have considered temporarily renting out a room as an Airbnb. But a hidden risk can put you and your family in a horrible situation.

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash
Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

Nightmare Airbnb Guest Refuses To Leave Woman's Home

A woman recently shared a video of a horrible 'tenant' who took advantage of the law and refuses to leave the woman's home. Apparently, the homeowner rented her home out for what she thought would be a short time. After what she thought was a successful transaction with the Airbnb guests, she left for vacation. She returned home to find that the woman who rented the room she listed was still there. You can watch her videos below.

Can A Guest At Your Home Legally Become A Tenant Against Your Wishes?

The law regarding tenancy varies by state. As a homeowner, you should know the legal length of time before you allow anyone - friend, family member or stranger - to stay in your home. In New York State, a person can claim they are a tenant, even without a written lease (depending on how long they have been staying with you - see more on that below). According to New York's Attorney General Leitita James,

A lease is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that contains the terms and conditions of the rental. It cannot be changed while it is in effect unless both parties agree. Leases for apartments that are not rent stabilized may be oral or written.

In New York State, a guest who has occupied the property for 30 days becomes a tenant.  Once a guest becomes a tenant, you cannot just ask them to leave. They will have tenant's rights and you will have to legally evict them before they can be removed from your home. says,

If it becomes clear to you the guest is helping the tenant pay rent (while also living there), is receiving mail at the property, spends every night at the property, has moved in furniture or pets, or is making maintenance requests, then it’s likely this guest has established residency in your property without your approval.

Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash
Photo by Erica Marsland Huynh on Unsplash

Non-rent regulated renters who do not have leases and pay rent on a monthly basis are called “month-to-month” tenants.

Once a guest in your home has established tenancy, you can only remove them through a legal eviction, if they don't pay rent. Or you would need to give them written notice to vacate the property,

If you have lived in your apartment for less than one year, or have a lease for less than one year, your landlord must provide you with 30 days advanced notice before raising your rent or not renewing your lease.

Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash
Photo by Michal Balog on Unsplash

Good Deed Gone Wrong

If it's not scary enough that a guest can become a tenant against your will, they could also potentially move an immediate family member or child in with them. Once your guest has established that they are a tenant, they may have apartment sharing rights,

It is unlawful for a landlord to restrict occupancy of an apartment to the named tenant in the lease or to that tenant and immediate family. When the lease names only one tenant, that tenant may share the apartment with immediate family, one additional occupant, and the occupant’s dependent children provided the tenant or the tenant’s spouse occupies the premises as their primary residence.

If you are  considering renting a room to someone for a short term, you should definitely consider contacting an attorney.  Drawing up a written agreement that you and the guest sign prior to them staying, which includes a set timeframe may help protect you if things go awry. The moral of the story is that you should be careful who you invite into your home, even if they are a good friend or family member.

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