Updated April 2021
One of the most frustrating parts of being a landlord is dealing with out-of-control tenants and their out-of-control guests. There is no more significant event that highlights this frustration than when a tenant decides to throw a party.
Landlords: You need to stop your rental property from becoming party central.
Allowing parties to occur can become a serious financial and legal burden. When there’s a “kegger” on your property, the likelihood for damage, noise complaints, and injury increase dramatically.
In this article, we’ll explain what you can do to keep your rental property from becoming party central and drastically reduce the risk of damage,liability, and other costly issues.
Table Of Contents: Preventing Partying At Rentals
It’s hard to know where to begin when trying to eliminate the risk of elaborate parties being held at your properties. Work your way through this issue by addressing the following:
- Why Parties Are A Problem For Landlords
- What Can Landlords Do To Control Partying On Their Properties?
- Can Tenants Have Parties?
- What Can Landlords Do About Partying?
- FAQs: Controlling Parties At Rental Properties
New landlords and those inexperienced with party houses might wonder why it might be a problem for their tenants to have parties. Small dinner parties or family events, which is what many imagine when they hear the word “party,” are not the issue you need to worry about.
Large parties, particularly those held by young adults in college towns, can be incredibly damaging to the property. Additionally, the chance of illegal activity, such as underage drinking, occurring at these parties can be a huge liability issue for landlords.
Also, consider that the real estate that has been subjected to house parties thrown by irresponsible individuals is likely to suffer in its value. Repeated parties where damage and destruction are the norm are going to affect your rental property value.
Even if you can withhold the security deposit and hold the tenant responsible for additional damages, the damage could already be done.
Many landlords wonder what they can do to stop their rental property from becoming party central.
The first thing landlords need to remember is that they cannot prevent all parties from happening. Even though you are the owner of the property, the tenant has permission to use the property at-will while in tenancy. This means they can, with reasonable limitations, have guests over to have a party.
That being said, you also have rights as a landlord to define what type of parties are permitted, how large they can be, and what a tenant should do if they want to have a party that falls outside of these parameters.
The key is to be sure that the tenant is fully aware of this and that you both are on the same page about what the tenant is responsible for when holding a party.
There are a number of ways to try to do this, and your methods should focus on three key areas:
- The lease agreement
- Property inspections
- Clear communication
If the tenant understands you and you understand your tenant, you’ll be in a much better position to work out any potential party problems.
Drinking parties can lead to rowdy, destructive behavior, and violations of noise ordinances. A smart landlord will make sure there is a no-party clause in place and that the tenant is aware of this before moving in. As long as the lease agreement clearly states that the rental property is a no-party zone, the tenant must comply or face eviction for failure to comply.
While you may not care if the tenant drinks responsibly in the privacy of the rental unit, you must be clear that full-fledged parties that serve alcohol are simply not allowed. Especially in college towns, landlords should make sure that parties and “keggers” happen elsewhere, not on their property. Besides the potential for damaged property, underage drinking can be a concern and it is possible that a landlord can be held liable for it. It’s a good idea to read through all the responsibilities a landlord should know about.
Clarifying exactly what qualifies as a party that is “too big” and not allowed in a no-party clause in the rental agreement will help the tenant know exactly what they are responsible for.
There is always the chance your tenant will have parties without you knowing even if you have a clause in your lease agreement. Tenants may be aware that you are not in the area regularly or think they can hide any damages done at parties.
Make sure that it is part of your business practice to have move-in and move-out inspections as well as intermittent property inspections as allowed by law. These inspections will help ensure that you do not miss any damages and can hold the tenant responsible as needed for them.
Finally, make sure you discuss the no-party clause with your tenant in detail when signing the lease agreement. Clear communication on this topic will ensure you are both on the same page, and it will make the tenant more likely to ask permission to hold large gatherings.
If you make it clear that you are a reasonable landlord who is open to discussing things, your tenant will be more likely to approach you with their questions or plans.
Clear communication goes a long way in a tenant-landlord relationship; be sure to contribute to making this relationship as strong as possible.
As a landlord, it wouldn’t be in your best interest to completely disallow people from having parties. You can, however, place restrictions on the number of guests a tenant can have and the types of activities that can occur on your property while it is being rented out.
For landlords who feel strongly about controlling large-scale drinking in their rental units, the lease agreement is the best way to keep things under control. Take steps to keep the environment quiet and friendly before it’s too late by including strong wording in the lease agreement.
Wording in the lease agreement should address a limit on the number of guests on the property to a certain number (say no more than 10 without permission from the landlord). It should also stress that illegal activity, such as underage drinking or disorderly conduct, will result in immediate eviction proceedings.
Don’t be afraid to use specific language in the lease agreement that clarifies that use and possession of alcohol is permitted in the privacy of the rental property. Specify that “keggers” and parties involving large amounts of alcoholic beverages and include large numbers of people and an excessive amount of noise are strictly prohibited.
When partying is occurring even though you have done your best to prevent it from happening, what should you do to get things back under control? Landlords should always address this type of violation as quickly as possible. Sending the tenant a notice when they break a lease’s clause is key to regaining control of the situation as quickly as possible.
When you discover that a large party has taken place on your property or is currently in progress, you can take action to ensure the tenant will pay the consequences.
If the party is going on at the moment, you can call the police and they will come and take care of the situation. If there is any underage drinking going on or other illegal activity, the police can put an end to it and you can start eviction proceedings. Make sure you document the events, from the first phone call complaining about noise to what the police officer tells you.
If you decide to handle it yourself, make sure your tenant knows that you will call the police immediately if they and their guests do not stop and leave the premises. Let the tenant know that this is an official warning and if it happens again, you have no choice but to start the eviction process. Write up a few paragraphs of what happened and what you did about it and put it in the tenant’s file as a warning.
When you’ve decided your tenant has violated the lease agreement, you can create an official notice for the tenant to vacate the property due to violation of the lease agreement. Post the notice on the tenant’s door and also mail it to the tenant’s address. Begin the eviction process through the proper legal channels.
Using leverage of legitimate written threats of police action or eviction, you’ll send a message to partying tenants that you are serious about maintaining the quiet enjoyment of the property for neighbors and other tenants. You also show you are interested in protecting your property from potential damage due to excessive partying.
Remember, choosing your tenants more carefully can help you to avoid working with tenants who won’t respect your properties. Try the the best screening tools from RentPrep to improve your tenant selection process and reduce party risk from day one.
No, a landlord cannot prohibit alcohol in a rental property. That is unless the alcohol is being consumed by underage drinkers. In that instance, the landlord has legal grounds to act if the lease addresses criminal activity.
Depending on your local and state laws, you may not be able to set a specific number of guests the tenant is allowed at a specific time. In some areas, you may be able to do so. It is best to encourage your guests to limit their gatherings to a specific number and require that they give you advance notice of any larger gatherings.
This should all be pre-determined and agreed upon in the lease agreement before any tenants move into the property.
It may be prudent to encourage your tenant to alert you about any upcoming party arrangements in advance. By letting you know that they plan to have a small dinner party, you will be able to communicate that information to neighboring properties if noise becomes an issue. Consider encouraging this behavior for parties of a specific size and up.
Tenants should not be encouraged to hold large gatherings in common areas as those areas are meant to be for all residents of the building. To prevent this type of gatherings, a simple statement can be added to the lease agreement:
“Social gatherings must be restricted to the leased premises and cannot be held in common areas.”
Another problem you might see when your tenant is having frequent gatherings is related to parking. Tenants may allow the guests to park in the common lots without permission, and this will lead to other residents not having anywhere to park.
To prevent this from happening during approved gatherings, make sure the terms of parking, including how those terms apply to guests, are clearly stated in the lease agreement. Any guests that violate those rules will be subject to towing or fines as detailed at the parking location.
Keep Your Tenant’s Parties Under Control
Everyone likes to have guests now and then, but that doesn’t mean your tenant has a right to throw out-of-control parties every weekend! As a landlord, you want to be sure your lease agreement clauses protect you from the risks that accompany huge parties.
There is a balance between being a reasonable landlord who is well-liked by tenants and a pushover landlord who has to cover thousands of dollars in damages. You can ensure you are on the safe side of things by protecting yourself with the following:
- Clear lease agreements
- A firm hand on lease violations
- Open communication with your tenant.
You can stop your property from becoming party central as long as you prepare for the possibility. Most tenants will not push you on this, but you want to be certain you are ready for anything to keep your bottom line strong!
Has any of your current or previous tenants thrown parties in your rental? What actions did you take against them? Share this article and let us know in the comments below!