Landlord wants to charge tenant’s guests

| 12/04/2018

Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian statusJust wondering what the laws are for landlords and registering their rentals and how tenants can know if it is a legally registered rental property. I know of a landlord who also wants to charge their tenants hotel rates for family to visit and stay in her studio apartment. Not to mention she has been told she is not allowed overnight guests. Nothing in the contract stated these rules. She is not renting a room, she is renting a studio apartment. Thoughts?

Auntie’s answer: Well, my initial thought is your friend needs to find a new landlord. But your questions actually cover several different issues and I will take them in order.

As for registration of leases, an official with the Lands and Survey Department explained that leases fall into two categories, ones that must be registered and ones that may be registered. “A lease must be registered if it is for a specified period of more than two years. A lease may be registered if it is for a shorter period, but it is not required by law to be registered,” the official said.

All files of the Land Registry are publicly available, including leases. If the lease in question was registered, you can request a copy — and pay the relevant fee — at the public counter in the Government Administration Building.

For the question of the landlord charging visiting family members, while it is true anyone who is not a resident is considered a tourist, the apartment in question would not be considered a tourist rental, which is described under the Tourism Accommodation Taxation Law (2003) as “any establishment where tourist are accommodated and are charged for such overnight accommodation and service connected therewith”.

I only include that last bit to cover all the bases because anyone with a drop of common sense (and plain decency) would conclude that the landlord should not be charging the tenant’s family as if they were staying in a hotel. For goodness sake, the landlord is still getting rent from the tenant, and isn’t she allowed to have relatives come over for a visit?

You also note that the landlord says that overnight guests are not allowed, but that clause is not written into the lease. I am not a lawyer nor an expert in landlord/tenant agreements but it seems to me that if the lease does not forbid overnight guests, that should be the end of that argument. I will also say that I have never heard of a landlord saying to anyone I know, “If you want your mother to stay with you, she has to pay me a nightly hotel rate.”

That brings me back to my original point: I think it’s time for your friend to go apartment hunting.

Category: Ask Auntie, Landlord/Tenant Questions

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    You cant charge a tourist rental without having a licence from DOT which costs CI$250 per year. This is granted after satisfactory inspections by DOT, DEH and the fire department. The landlord is breaking the law, simple as that. Not to mention the 13% tax that isn’t being paid or sent to DOT.

  2. Slumlords says:

    As with most things in life it comes down to what it says in the contract. If there is no mention of guests, I am thinking the landlord has little say on short term visitors.
    Most tenants have the water and electricity in their names so it should make no difference to the landlord if there is more than 1 person staying other than slight wear and tear. However if the apartment is being used as a hot bed hotel where “family” sleep there in the day and work at night I can imagine the landlord getting touchy. But then their lease should be categorically clear on what they will and will not accept and if you don’t like it move on. But hotel rates for guests – that landlord sounds like a right price of work.

  3. Anon. says:

    I hope they seriously review that Residential Tenancies Law before implementing it.
    It screws over the honest landlords with unscrupulous tenants.

    Was the most difficult thing getting rid of tenants who would not pay rent.
    You go to court and the court gives them extra time to pay, even though they were had not been paying for months!

    Plus, they don’t even have to pay all arrears, once they pay something it shows an effort to pay so court gives them more time.

    Total BS if you ask me.

    • Anonymous says:

      Most apartment rentals specify the maximum persons allowed to live in residency which is usually 2 adults per bedroom, and visitors not on lease staying more than a short period needs the landlord approval. I have seen 1 bedrooms having 7-8 driving long term visitors causing problems to neighbours from extra parking and late nights noise.

  4. Anonymous says:

    You might want to stay away from opinions about US law. There are 50 different sets of landlord/tenant law and many places where a court order is not required for eviction.

    • Anonymous says:

      We have a perfectly good Residential Tenancies Law which sits waiting to be enacted since 2009. In any event we are a BOT who would follow the UK, not the US in the absence of a relevant law here. What has the US got to do with it?

    • Anonymous says:

      How to legally evict your tenant in the UK.

      1 Give notice of eviction.
      You must give at least two months’ notice under section 21 of the Housing act 1988 if you want to evict your tenant. This is known as a Section 21 notice. It can only be served by a landlord earlier than any fixed term if the tenancy agreement makes provision for it.

      2.Possession orders
      If the tenant doesn’t move out as a result of the Section 21 notice, you’ll have to go to court to seek a possession order.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Any professionally leased property will stipulate the maximum occupancy of the unit. Anyone who is going to the effort and expense of offering a rental unit should ensure it is separately metered for water and electricity. Inexpensive sub-meters can be used, it does not (usually) involve significant work. As for the landlord requesting hotel rates for their tenants guests … well … time to find a new apartment!

  6. Landlord says:

    As landlord myself, there are other things you need to consider here. It is a studio apartment, which could mean that it is an area of a larger house that was converted and does not have separate utility meters.

    It could be that the landlord advertised for a single person in order to be able to estimate the potential usage and the rent that was agreed, could have been sufficient to cover the usage of one person and still leave the landlord with funds to meet their expenses. If you add another individual into that mix (one who for example will stay home in the day while the tenant is at work) will significantly increase the usage and utilities.

    Hopefully you see where I am going with this… now I agree it should be in the lease but if you advertise yourself as single person and only your name is on the lease then you really shouldn’t be having over night guests that are actually staying there for a period of time and not merely there to visit a few hours, especially for a studio apartment and particularly if all utilities are included.

    Now on the flip side if utilities are separate then there really should be no issue other than the fact that for a studio apartment the maximum people living there should be 2, otherwise wear and tear is amplified.

    • Anonymous says:

      if you don’t want your tenant to have a stay over guest that is unreasonable….if it’s a must for the landlord then it really should be in the lease

    • Anonymous says:

      When my family visits, there is no significant increase in utilities. A/C works the same as it worked without visitors. May be a slight increase in water consumption. Guests usually spend all day on a beach.
      A visitor who stays all day at home doesn’t consume more energy or water. Unless he/she runs a cup cakes business and bakes it all day long.
      Reputation of a landlord is very important.

    • Anonymous says:

      Sensible landlords stipulate a maximum amount in the lease for utilities above which the tenant must pay the difference.

      When a landlord leases a property to a tenant inclusive or exclusive of utilities, the tenant shall have both privacy of tenure and vacant possession of the property provided they abide with the terms of the lease. Many landlords in Cayman have the weirdest expectations of their tenants and an apparent reluctance to rightfully refund deposits even to the most excellent of tenants.

      You cannot put whimsical clauses into any contract unless they are reasonable.

      As another poster has already said, enactment of the 2009 law is long overdue and the majority of tenants continue to be screwed over by unreasonable landlords.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The lease agreement is what matters. If they had agreed not to stuff their studio apt with revolving guests, or if there is a defined maximum occupancy number, then that’s the conduct expected per the lease. Forgiving for a moment the “hotel rate” comments, you can’t fault a property owner for objecting to taking on three or four times the added wear and tear due to tenant’s deliberate sustained over-occupancy, if the lease specifically forbids that behavior. I suspect apt hunting might be best solution for everyone.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Name and shame the individual!

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s high time the government enacted the Residential Tenancies Law. Tenants paying rent on a long term lease are supposed to have vacant possession of the property provided they pay their rent on time and look after their properties properly. Nobody should be barred or have to seek permission, let alone have to pay, for visiting family members.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The landlord is a greedy scumbag.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A lease is a contract and is governed by the language in the contract. If there is no language in the lease describing whether or not guests or overnight guests are allowed then the landlord really has no leg to stand on. Why does the landlord even know that you have guests?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Auntie, what registration of leases has to do with the question?
    Secondly if rental agreement is silent on guests and overnight visitors, it is none of the landlord’s business.
    Some rental agreements have a clause that stipulates that one time extra $50 is charged if a guest (s) stays for more than 10 days.
    So have your guests over and enjoy their company.
    If she tries to evict you or change locks, tell her, to do so, she must have a court order. If she ignores and changes locks, call the police. They must intervene, this becomes criminal matter, not civil. In the USA landlords who evict without court order are arrested.
    And don’t be afraid to take any matter in a small case court. Document everything. Record every conversation.
    Been there done that.