Prevent Unauthorized Move-Ins and Problem Guests with House Rules
Long-term guests can be big-time headaches at assisted sites. Some residents abuse their housing assistance by letting guests stay over with them frequently or continuously. Residents may think that you won't care because they believe they're using resources at HUD's expense.
But you've got plenty of reasons to care about long-term guests. These guests often make their presence known through wild partying. Or they may make life miserable for your good residents by habitually ignoring site rules relating to parking spaces and common areas. And if HUD discovers you're letting people live at the site without certifying them and not taking their income into account when calculating household rent, you could end up paying the tab for their stays. HUD may require you to reimburse it for overpaid assistance if you fail to follow HUD rules, which say you must certify all members of the household [HUD Handbook 4350.3, par. 5-1].
The best way to prevent long-term guests from disrupting life at your site and putting you in hot water with HUD is to set house rules that give you control over guests and prevent unauthorized move-ins, says management expert Mickey Myers. With his help, we've drafted Model Rules: Set Limits on Long-Term Guests, that you can adapt and use to show residents that you won't ignore guest abuses.
How Guest Rules Help
Adopting rules that limit guests' stays and hold residents responsible for guests' conduct is useful for several reasons:
It makes residents aware that they must tell management when guests visit and that they risk violating their leases if they don't control guests' conduct;
It helps you keep track of guests;
It gives you ammunition against residents whose guests cause trouble or become unauthorized live-ins; and
It shows HUD that you're making an effort to prevent unauthorized live-ins and subsidy abuse at your site.
What Rules Should Say
Your house rules, like ours, should accomplish the following items:
Require guest registration. It's a good idea to require residents to register the name, address, and proposed length of stay of any guest who stays over a specified length of time, says Myers. Set a short but reasonable time limit for requiring registration. Knowing that guests are at the site helps you keep track of the length of their stays and helps you prevent them from becoming residents without your knowledge. You also know their identities, in case they cause trouble while at the site.
Give you right to confirm guest's place of residence. If you start to suspect that the guest is no longer just a guest but has in fact moved in, require the resident to prove that the guest still maintains a residence elsewhere. Be careful to accept only documents that reliably show the guest's current address.
Set limits on stays. Set a limit on the length and/or frequency of guests' visits. And tell residents that any guest who wants to stay longer or more often must apply for admission. Otherwise, you're giving guests an invitation to stay as long as they want. Also, remind residents that the addition of household members may cause their rents to increase.
It's up to you to set limits on the number and/or length of guests' visits in the rules for your site. For instance, Myer's company won't let any guest spend more than 14 overnights at the site in a 45-day period unless the guest has applied for, qualified as, and been certified as a member of the household. Don't unreasonably restrict the number or length of visits. It's also a good idea to ask your local HUD office if it or your state law has any criteria that affect how often or how long a guest may stay.
Mickey Myers: Senior Vice President, Landura Management Assocs., 100 Creekside Circle, Marion, KY 42064; www.landura.com.
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