Putting girlfriend on the lease when she has already been living here
May 12, 2012 10:31 AM   Subscribe

Girlfriend moved in with me in January. She's not on the lease. I am renewing the lease and want her to officially be on it. Will this cause a problem with the rental agency?

I currently rent a one-bedroom apartment in a larger apartment community. After growing frustration with living with her parents, the girlfriend moved in with me. It sort of sneaked up on both of us; there was no "official" move-in day, but gradually she found herself living here. Her mail now comes to this address, and when she got a new driver's license in April it was with this address as well.

I realize that I should have notified the apartment complex at some point. Now the lease is up for renewal, and I would like to have my girlfriend on the new lease as an official occupant. This would only require a criminal background check. However, I'm worried that at some point in the process the apartment complex will realize that she has been living here for the past five months, and possibly not take this very well. My lease prohibits having other residents in my apartment without permission, although it does not define "resident" or give a specific number of days someone is allowed to visit.

Should I come clean and confess everything? Should we just pretend like my girlfriend still lives with her family during the application process? Or am I worrying too much about this?
posted by kingoftonga86 to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Should we just pretend like my girlfriend still lives with her family during the application process?

You can't do that because she's got a driver's license with your address on it. If that was only in April, that's her official move-in date, and notify them of that now. April was less than two weeks ago. Five months is not a "visit."

The level of problems this may or may not cause will vary greatly depending on your location, landlord and lease, but delaying or pretending isn't going to help.
posted by sageleaf at 10:42 AM on May 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Why did you let her live there if the apartment complex prohibits people not on the lease living in apartment that they lease out? Just state that she just was "over a lot", but wasn't co-habituating with you.
posted by pixienat at 10:46 AM on May 12, 2012

Um....this is bad. If she shows them ID with their address on it already, and find out she's having her mail sent here (which I'm assuming at least one of those will happen in the application process), I think they'd flip out. No landlord is going to like an illegal stealth tenant happening like this. This is exactly why leases have the "no other residents" clause in them. You may get in trouble yourself for breaking the terms of your lease (IANAL), so I would not recommend honesty and outing yourself. She needs to get out before you are busted.

I would tell her to get a post office box for her mail, GET A NEW DRIVER'S LICENSE with uh, some other address on it (okay, I don't know how doable this is. Does she still have her old license to show instead?), and pretend that she still lives with her family. She may be staying over every night, but I would not let on that she's already moved in.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:56 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there a process in your lease for adding a resident? If this is something you can do, sure, you waited too long, but I would think no harm no foul if you come clean now.
posted by J. Wilson at 11:16 AM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I don't think it would cause a problem *except* for the drivers license thing.

I subleased from someone in an apartment that (I later found out) expressly forbade subleasing. When the time came to renew the lease, my roommate had me put on the lease as well.

However, I had not changed my drivers license from my parents' house....

I think the clauses about people not living there are mainly for safety issues (you don't want to lease an apartment to a couple, and then a month later find out they've invited the inlaws from both sides of the family to move it, or have a legal resident harbor a fugitive or something), so I would just be upfront. Say she's been staying over a lot, and that's she's officially going to move in - if they question the license, tell them she jumped the gun or something.
posted by Lt. Bunny Wigglesworth at 11:22 AM on May 12, 2012

I really think you are worrying too much about this. How would they find out that her driver's license or mail has your address? If she's getting packages sent to the house that go through a main office first, have her put your name on them. Tell them she put her new address on the license because she planned on moving in with you. I really, really doubt they will even check when the license had been renewed.

Especially if you live in a large complex, I don't see how they would ever find this out unless you tell them.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:26 AM on May 12, 2012

If you live in an actual corporately-managed apartment community, nobody cares, just put her on the lease. Even if it's just a landlord, as long as they are relatively normal human beings it's going to be fine. The only time anyone cares is if you're causing trouble.

Should anyone even notice the driver's license, just say she went ahead and did it for paperwork purposes. People do tend to know they're moving before the day they move, and some people are really organized and get that stuff taken care of. Same with mail, when there's already someone they know there to receive it.

Honestly, the liability is yours when she's not on the lease. If she damaged the apartment it would be all your responsibility, if she was setting off fireworks in the parking lot they could ban her from the property without eviction formalities. But if you're a generally responsible tenant, a girlfriend is not the thing the clauses in the lease are meant to protect them from, and getting her on the lease will be more important than hassling you about the time she wasn't.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:31 AM on May 12, 2012 [5 favorites]

I dont' think this is a big deal. 1. it happens all the time, 2. the 'penalties' for this sort of thing are more hassle to enforce than just rolling with it.

I'd just say that she has been staying from April when the License was renewed, and that you thought it a good time to add her to the lease now.

or if she has a passport use that as ID rather than the License.
posted by mary8nne at 11:56 AM on May 12, 2012

I'm sure they will want to see her driver's license when they add her to the lease. So bottom line, how would you really hide this? I like the "jumped the gun" explanation suggested above if you feel comfortable with that: she's been staying over a lot, got excited, and jumped the gun on changing her address. Now you want to add her to the lease.

I just don't see the downside, especially compared to perhaps the only other option of continuing to not disclose this and continuing to not have her on the lease. They're much more likely to be pissed if they find out later and there's never any coming clean.
posted by J. Wilson at 12:07 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Our leasecontains a clause that states that if one has a guest stay over for more than 3 days in any 4 week period, then one is liable for $10 a day for every day over. That is standard apartment lease form boilerplate. Before you disclose any information, read your lease closely.
posted by y2karl at 1:08 PM on May 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Every apartment leasing company or individual is different. For the most part, if you've been an "ideal tenant" (i.e. pay rent on time, no noise complaints, on generally friendly terms with office staff), there'll be zero or few problems.

There are other documents she can use to prove her identity. Does she have a passport? "Jumped the gun" should be fine (because if they'll rent to you alone, and she doesn't have criminal history, there'll be no problems renting to the both of you), or "I lost/expired my driver's license, here's my other identity-proving documents" may be another approach.

I have a clause in my lease that "No guest may stay longer than five days without notifying the front office", but my parents visited for a week. A number of those clauses are things they can enforce in case of issues, e.g. drunken parties, domestic disputes, etc.

My former lease had a clause about "no motor vehicles may be kept inside the apartment" because someone did. A lot of them are "to be invoked in case of problems", not to punish good tenants.
posted by bookdragoness at 2:22 PM on May 12, 2012

Fess up! Because they will find out. When our screeners run their checks, if an address shows up, they'll try to contact that property even if the applicant didn't put it on their application.

I add on "unauthorized occupants" to leases on a fairly regular basis. I'd rather do that than do an rules violation eviction.
posted by vespabelle at 2:56 PM on May 12, 2012

You need to notify them. They probably will not care - but they might. If she has a record, bad credit, or some other mark against her. But most likely they will not care.
posted by Flood at 3:05 PM on May 12, 2012

This is really not a big deal, the apartment complex doesn't have to grant permission in advance for you to decide to let your girlfriend move in with you. Tell them that you decided to cohabitate just recently. Conveniently, now that it's time for renewal, you're adding her to the lease. Her license is w/the new address because your decision had already been made, even though she wasn't officially living there yet.

(They don't know about her mail being sent there, they're not allowed to look in your mailbox. And don't you get mail from the last seven or so tenants anyway? It proves nothing.)
posted by desuetude at 12:14 AM on May 13, 2012

This is not doom and gloom. When my SO and I weren't really living together I often received packages and mail at her (corporate-owned) apartment. It was quite convenient since packages were delivered to the office so I could pick them up as I arrived. (I lived a couple hours away at the time) Sometimes I'd stay for a couple of weeks at a time. Nobody cared.

Eventually I moved in and was at some point notionally added to the lease although I never signed anything aside from the occasional credit card slip for the rent. (no fee, how can you not use a rewards card to pay the rent!) They probably thought I was really weird the times I'd pay for more than one apartment.

Point being, don't stress and just add her. They've definitely seen more strange/upsetting things. Unless she's a felon it won't be a problem.
posted by wierdo at 3:01 AM on May 13, 2012

While I can't the apartment management actually caring about this, if she has a passport, she can show that instead of the driver's license.
posted by bsdfish at 1:16 PM on May 13, 2012

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