when does a guest become a tenant

When does A Guest Become A Tenant in Alabama?

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Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Kelvin Nielsen

As a tenant, having guests come over is part of life. They can be a visiting family, your significant other, a roommate, or even a live-in nanny. It’s also possible to have invited a friend or relative to stay on your couch as they get on their feet. In another instance, a partner may move in with you without first seeking your permission.  

That said, you have a lease to abide by!  

Having a guest overstay can cause problems for you, as it may be a violation of the terms of the lease agreement.

The following are answers to commonly asked questions regarding the issue.

When Does a Guest Become a Tenant in Alabama?

The following are telltale signs that a guest has now become a tenant.

  • They are now paying rent. If you frequently stay or live on a property and start paying rent, you’d be considered a tenant even if you haven’t been named on the lease. In fact, in the state of Alabama, a written lease isn’t mandatory for one to be considered a tenant.
  • They are now receiving mail at the property. This is another sign that the tenant is residing there.
  • They have moved in their stuff. Has your guest moved in their belongings, such as furniture and pets? If so, they are no longer guests.
  • They are now spending every night at the property.
  • There is a verbal agreement between you and your guest, for example, to split the rent payment in half.

After how Long Does a Guest Become A Tenant in Alabama?

According to the statewide landlord-tenant law (Alabama Code Title 35 Chapter 9A), a guest becomes a tenant after staying in your rental for a period of at least 30 days. And at that point, they obtain inherent rights and responsibilities pursuant to the code.

What is the Difference between a Guest and a Tenant?

The crucial difference between a tenant and a guest is that a tenant is obligated to the terms of the lease while a guest isn’t. A tenant has responsibilities such as:

  • Paying rent on time.
  • Caring for their rented premises.
  • Abiding by the rental policies, such as not keeping an unauthorized pet or smoking inside the unit.
  • Not causing damage to the unit.
  • Reporting maintenance issues on time.
  • Making small repairs.

Your guest, on the other hand, doesn’t have such responsibilities. The term “guest” can take on different meanings. Including the following:

  • A hired help that doesn’t live on the property. They can be nurses, cleaners, nannies, and pet sitters.
  • A friend or relative who visits and stays on the property only for a brief period. Typically, not overstaying past two weeks within a 6 months
  • A college student who returns for a short break such as a spring break.
  • A significant other who stays overnight a few nights per week.

Can a Landlord Charge For Overnight Guests?

Check the lease agreement. Landlords are entitled to include a guest policy in their leases. Often, landlords create these policies because they worry about unauthorized subletting of their rental property.

Does it state that your landlord can charge you for having an overnight guest? If it does, then your landlord would be within their rights to do so. However, if it doesn’t, then your landlord would have to provide you a written 30 days’ change of terms notice.

Can My Landlord Tell Me I Can’t Have Guests?

No. Your landlord cannot stop guests from visiting you as long as you abide by the terms of the lease agreement. Just make sure that your guest, however, doesn’t stay longer than what is specified in your tenancy.

Are Tenants Allowed To Have Parties?

Absolutely! You can host parties as long as you keep noise levels reasonable and not cause property damage.

Your landlord can, however, place certain restrictions, such as the number of guests you can have, the types of activities that can occur, and by what time the party should end. Your landlord may also stress that illegal activity, such as disorderly conduct or underage drinking would result in immediate eviction from the property.

Can a Landlord Evict You For Having Overnight Guests?

Yes. Your landlord can evict you for violating the guest policy. If, for instance, the guest policy says that a guest can only stay for one or two consecutive nights within 6 months and your guest ends up staying for a week, then your landlord would have a just cause to evict you.

Sources: Alabama Code Title 35 Chapter 9A, Alabama Tenants’ Handbook, Legal Encyclopedia.

Disclosure: The content herein isn’t a substitute for advice from a professional attorney. It’s only meant to serve educational purposes. If you have a specific question, kindly seek expert attorney services.

13 thoughts on “When does A Guest Become A Tenant in Alabama?”

  1. Hello,

    I’m a landlord and my 27 year old son has refused to leave my home even after multiple requests to have him leave. I’m considering Calling the police on him. Please help

  2. My AL landlord told me that i can only have a guest stay overnight for a maximum of a day in a week. Is this even legal? He has it written on the lease.

  3. We split rent 50/50 with my guest turn roommate. My landlord doesn’t explitly prohibit subletting in the lease. However, me and my roommate are no longer getting along very well and would like to evict them. How should i go about the process. Thanks

  4. Hello Mr. Nielsen,

    I found your articles in a Google search in my desperation and panic for my current situation.

    I have an urgent matter that I need a couple questions answered to find out if I could retain your services.

    Simply put, my father sold my home out from under me and did not give me notice that he did so. I have him on a recorded call saying that he was just going to let me find out when the new owners opted to kick me out. He did not provide me any formal or informal legal notice that he sold the property. The new owners want to take possession and my hearing is tomorrow. I’ll gladly leave quietly, but I don’t feel I’ve been given enough notice to find another place to live and now I’m panicking about getting kicked out and locked out unfairly.

    Basically, my goal is to figure out what Rights I have- if any, to get just a little more time to move out from the new owners given that my father sold the property and didn’t give me any notice, written, or verbal of any kind.

    Please advise if you’re willing and able to. I can be reached at xxxxxxxxx at any time today as well.

    Thank you so much for your time,

    Paige S.

    1. Hello Paige,

      So sorry to hear the predicament you’ve found yourself in.

      Just some quick questions, though.

      1. Which state are you in?
      2. What is the hearing about? Is it an eviction hearing? If so, kindly attach it on my email – kkelvy2@gmail.com. (Just take a good photo and attach it).

      And yes, you enjoy a number of rights, actually more than you’d even think.

      Looking forward to your earliest reply.

      Kind Regards

  5. Such an informative article. Just a quick question, though. Is Alabama a tenant friendly state? I’m moving to the state for studies and will be living off campus. Thanks.

  6. I’m a landlord in Phoenix, how should I go about the process of evicting a guest before they become a tenant after 29 days. Should i simply call the police or what exactly should i do?

    1. Yes sure, you can simply call the police to get the freeloader out.

      “A person who knowingly remains on the premises without the permission of the tenant or the landlord may be removed by a law enforcement officer at the request of the tenant or the landlord who is entitled to possession of the premises.” This is per Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1378 (2018).

      Hope this helps!

  7. My lease is coming to an end in two weeks time and my landlord has refused to renew it. Do I have any rights as per AL landlord tenant laws?

    1. No, your contract (lease agreement) is coming to an end and your landlord isn’t obligated to renew it for another time. They don’t even have to tell you the reason for not doing it. However, if it’s a periodic lease, the landlord must notify you of their intention not to renew it for another cycle.

      Hope that helps!

  8. Thanks for the detailed post. I just have one question, can a stay-in nanny become a tenant as per Alabama law?

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