HousingLink Blog

What would you do? A tenant's sister is sleeping in the parking lot...

by Josh Dye | Oct 05, 2016

A landlord approached HousingLink with the following dilemma:

"The sister and boyfriend of a resident are sleeping in a car in the parking lot of our apartment complex. The resident is current on her rent, and complies with the lease. I contacted the local police department, but they said they can't do anything to help since it is private property and they have no jurisdiction. How should I handle this situation?"

Here were some responses from landlords that subscribe to our Landlord Link newsletter.

Jean's Response
"I would treat them as my tenant's guests. Whether they can be on the premises, and for how long, would depend on the terms of my tenant's lease. First, I would remind my tenant of the applicable lease terms regarding guests, their number and duration, and, if allowed, adding guests to the lease. I would advise my tenant that the presence of these people anywhere on the premises invokes these guest provisions, whether or not they stay inside the tenant's apartment or use any of the tenant's other facilities.

Second, if my tenant's guest allowances include free parking of the guests' car, I would allow their car to stay in the parking lot until the tenant's guest allowance is exhausted. If not, the car must be removed immediately. If free parking for guests is not allowed, but space is available, the car could stay - up to the limit of the overall guest policy - with payment of parking fees.

Third, once the guest allowance is exhausted, the guests must leave the premises, unless the lease allows for additional tenants. If it does, and my tenant had requested that they be added, they qualify, and they pay the additional rent, they may stay.

Finally, if the lease does not allow for additional tenants, or if any of the other additional tenant requirements do not occur, I would look to my tenant to remove the guests. If the guests do not leave, I would notify my tenant of a material breach of the lease and otherwise proceed with eviction. I would also call the police again about removing trespassers from my property."

Carla's Response
"I would first speak to the Resident that according to her signed MN lease line #28 (line #28 in the lease this landlord is using), she is responsible for her guests as well as the property of anyone visiting her.  

Second, I would inform her that in the latter portion of line #36 of her lease (line #36 in the lease this landlord is using), that as a Resident, she agreed to respect the rights of other Residents, and all persons lawfully on the premises; emphasizing the fact that her guests are not lawfully allowed to park their car and/or stay in it, as it is private property.  

Third, I would also call her attention to line #44 of her lease (line #44 in the lease this landlord is using) that further defines the parking directives; that parking spaces may be used by the Resident and Resident's guests for "parking"; and Management's ability "to tow away and store any vehicle at Residents or owners expense that are parked in spaces not so authorized by management."

Last, I would point out that in line #44, the lease goes on to state (line #44 in the lease this landlord is using); "The Resident agrees to inform all guests of the parking rules for the apartment property." 

I would then advise her that by her allowing her guests to do this that she is in violation of her lease and should the situation not be taken care of immediately, she will receive a written lease violation notice that will be placed in her permanent Resident file.  I would then close our conversation by informing her that any future lease violations may be cause to not renew her lease or could even potentially cause her eviction which would also put her future rental prospects at risk."

(Note how Carla referenced her lease to state her case. This is a landlord best practice!)

Lindsay's Response
"I'd start by contacting local shelters to see if/what they can do. I'm sure that they've run across this type of situation before and maybe they can offer some solutions for you as a manager to help the homeless people in your lot.
 

I'd then sit down with the resident of the apartment and let them know that the parking lot is an extension of their home and if someone ("a guest") of theirs is loitering it's there responsibility to tell them they need to move onto another home. This is a lease infraction and can jeopardize their residency with you (possibly non-renew them). 

But if you can have something in your hand to try to help them find someplace suitable to live or contact information for a homeless shelter near by.  Then give them a date and time you'd need them to be out of your parking lot."

Greg's Response
"Post a sign in the lot that states parking is for resident's cars only. if they don't quit living in the lot, tell the current tenant that her sister and boyfriend are causing a lease violation, and give her a choice, they move on or she moves on.

Mention the tightness of the rental market, and what an eviction will do to her chances of finding a new unit. If you post the sign in the lot, just have their car towed by the company that posts the property. Your lease should be able to force the tenant to make them go away, and if not, get a new lease."

Michelle's Response
"We would file a trespass order as they are not residents of the complex and are trespassing on private property."

Miche's Response
"I would speak with the tenant and let them know this is not safe. It does interfere with the quiet enjoyment of others. If everyone started sleeping in their cars, it would cause problems with noise, trash, others stopping to visit with them."

Sherrie's Response
"I don’t understand the landlord stating the police saying it’s not their jurisdiction and they won’t come on private property. The police come on private property all the time when there’s a complaint. The landlord should contact the police again, and speak with someone more knowledgeable."

Bill's Response
"Do you have no trespass signage up? If so, Anyone sleeping/ loitering/ standing on private property are subject to trespass, at least in the state of MN. These people have no right to entry whether their sister is current or not. The tenant rights do not transfer just because of a relationship. No one other than those on the lease agreement as members of the household have right of entry and can be trespassed.

 
Ask them to leave and not return. Then have the police come and serve a trespass notice to these people. This will eliminate their ability to be on the property at any time. Explain to the sister that no one can sleep/loiter on the common areas of the property and that they've been trespassed."

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