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Adding occupants, additional security deposit?

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We rented a 3 bedroom home to 3 adults and 1 child, the tenants are in a fixed term lease.  After they moved in, they took on 5 foster children without notifying us.  After we found out, we gave them a 30 day notice of termination based on unauthorized occupants.  They have since accused us of discrimination due to the foster children being included in the familial protected class.  Although we still feel that 9 occupants in a 3 bedroom house is too many, we may be required to allow them to stay.  That said, we would like to at lease have the option to increase their security deposit due to the additional potential wear and tear of 6 children and 9 total occupants.


Our screening criteria allows a maximum occupancy of 2 per bedroom plus 1 for the dwelling.  Being a 3-bedroom home, this would allow for 7 occupants.  That said, the home has a bonus room (no door or closet) that the tenant may claim is being used as a bedroom, however, a recent inspection proved that it is not setup as a bedroom.


Can anyone provide feedback on our options to increase the security deposit or terminate the rental agreement?  The rental agreement clearly states that adding unauthorized occupants is a violation of the rental agreement, however, they are all under the age of 18 and would not have been screened if they had notified us of them prior to moving in.


We are in the state of Oregon, thank you in advance for your help.

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First of all, don't take legal advice from your tenant.


I don't see any evidence of discrimination against families with children since you rented to a family with a child.


It's the occupancy question.


Trouble is, what you screened for is irrelevant. It's what's in your lease that counts.


What, exactly does it say about who or how many may occupy the dwelling? You say "clearly states" but often when people write that, it doesn't. So please quote it word for word.


If the lease is unclear about that, you may be stuck with them for the duration if they have not breached the lease by increasing the number of tenants.


If that's the case then you don't get to change the terms of the lease (security deposit amount) until the lease expires.


By the way, a security deposit doesn't cover "wear and tear," only damage.


Meantime, I suggest you study up on the Oregon landlord tenant statutes:


Section 90.262 (3) may be of interest to you as it addresses occupant limits:

Edited by Findlaw_FN

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Thanks for the response and feedback.  Unfortunately our lease does not have a clause for maximum occupancy, only our screening criteria does.  This is something we will be changing today!


That said, our lease does have wording about unauthorized occupants:


Right below the list of tenants and approved occupants we state:


"Only the Approved Tenants and Approved Occupants listed above may live in this dwelling. No one else may live there, even temporarily, without Manager's prior written permission. Unauthorized occupants may result in the immediate termination of the rental agreement with a 72 hour notice."


Also, we have this section:


"Change in Occupancy – If there are any changes in occupancy, or any tenants who vacate the premises, the remaining residents must notify Manager within 3 days of the change in occupancy. NO NEW TENANTS may move in to the home unless and until they comply with Managers screening procedures. Failure to report any change in tenancy, or new resident, may result in the termination of the Rental Agreement within 72 hours and penalties for rental agreement violations. The security deposit shall stay with the unit until the last resident has vacated the unit. Residents are responsible for inter-resident agreements regarding the security deposit or fees."


They did not notify us of these new occupants as required by the rental agreement.

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It would be one thing if your tenants had a baby.  You certainly could not enforce the occupancy provision in your lease to force them to move or pay a higher security deposit.  Taking on five foster children is another matter entirely, and I don't see the case law about discriminating against certain family compositions being applicable (although I haven't researched anything).  I agree with "adjusterjack's" response and think you have a valid argument to terminate the lease (or, as an alternative, to require additional deposit), but I suggest you consult with a local attorney for advice (especially since Oregon tends to be extremely liberal with respect to stuff like this.

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