Free Resources for Property Managers

Occupant or Tenant? The Law on 18-Year-Olds or Adult Children

3390 views May 8, 2024 Karina Jugo 9

Rental policies come into play when a tenant’s dependent turns 18. At this age, the occupant is legally considered an adult, and the rental policy can vary depending on the landlord, property manager, or jurisdiction.

In some cases, the dependent is listed as an additional tenant on the lease after completing a rental application, undergoing a credit check, and meeting income requirements. They assume the same rights and responsibilities as any adult tenant.

However, other rental policies allow the dependent to continue residing in the property without being added as a tenant. In such cases, the primary tenant (often a parent or legal guardian) remains solely responsible for the lease obligations.

So what do you, as the landlord or property manager, do when confronted with this situation? Should you add the 18-year-old as a tenant? Or should you simply list them as one of the occupants? Read on to find out.

Should an 18-year-old resident be listed as a tenant?

Whether or not an 18-year-old occupant should be listed in a residential lease agreement as a tenant depends on several factors, including the laws and regulations in your specific jurisdiction and the terms of the lease agreement itself. Here are some considerations:

  1. Legal Age: In many places, the legal age to enter into a contract, including a lease agreement, is 18 years old. If the occupant is 18 or older, they are typically considered legally capable of entering into a lease agreement on their own.
  2. Landlord’s Policies: Some landlords may have specific policies about who should be listed on the lease agreement. They may require that all adults living in the rental unit be listed as tenants to ensure they are aware of and responsible for all occupants.
  3. Occupancy Limits: Most lease agreements have occupancy limits that dictate how many people can live in the rental unit. These limits are often based on factors like the size of the unit and local housing codes. Make sure to check if listing the 18-year-old occupant would exceed these limits.
  4. Financial Responsibility: Listing an occupant as a tenant typically makes them financially responsible for their share of the rent and any damages to the property. If the 18-year-old occupant will be contributing to rent and should share in these responsibilities, listing them as a tenant may be appropriate.
  5. Rental Application: The landlord may require all adult occupants to complete a rental application and undergo a background or credit check. Listing the 18-year-old as a tenant would require them to participate in this process if the landlord requests it.
  6. Liability: Listing all adult occupants on the lease agreement can help clarify who is legally responsible for various aspects of the lease, including rent payments and property maintenance.

Before making a decision, it may be advisable to consult with legal counsel or local housing authorities to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations, as these can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another. Ultimately, whether or not the 18-year-old should be listed as a tenant depends on the specific circumstances and agreements involved.


marketing older property

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens when an occupant of a rented property turns 18?

Depending on the specific circumstances and the terms of the lease agreement. two things can happen when a resident in a rented home turns 18. Here are the possible scenarios:

  1. Addition to the Lease: If the lease agreement allows for it, the occupant who turned 18 may be added to the lease as a formal tenant. This can be done by requesting an amendment to the lease agreement from the landlord or property management company. Being added to the lease typically means taking on the responsibilities and rights of a tenant, including financial responsibility for rent and adherence to lease terms.
  2. Continued Occupancy as a Non-Tenant: In some cases, the occupant who turns 18 may continue to live in the rental unit without being formally added to the lease agreement. They would be considered an occupant or resident rather than a tenant. This can happen when the lease agreement specifies that only certain individuals are tenants or when the landlord agrees to allow additional occupants without formalizing their tenancy status.
What are the responsibilities of 18-year-old occupants if they are specified as tenants in a lease agreement?

When an 18-year-old is listed as a tenant in a lease agreement, they typically share certain responsibilities and rights with other tenants, regardless of their age. Here are some common responsibilities that tenants, including 18-year-olds, typically have:

  1. Rent Payment: Tenants are responsible for paying rent on time, as specified in the lease agreement. This responsibility usually includes paying their share of the rent if there are multiple tenants in the rental unit.
  2. Compliance with Lease Terms: Tenants, including 18-year-olds, must comply with all terms and conditions outlined in the lease agreement. This includes rules regarding the use of the property, maintenance responsibilities, and any specific requirements set by the landlord.
  3. Property Maintenance: Tenants are generally responsible for keeping the rental unit clean and in good condition. They may be required to perform routine maintenance tasks and report any necessary repairs to the landlord.

Can a landlord demand payment from an adult child if the parents are unable to pay rent?

The lease agreement typically outlines who is responsible for paying rent. If the lease agreement names the primary tenant as the sole responsible party for rent, then adult children or other occupants are generally not legally obligated to cover the rent if the primary tenant cannot pay. However, some lease agreements may include all adult occupants as jointly and severally liable, meaning they are collectively responsible for the full rent amount.

Wrapping Up

When a resident of a rented property turns 18, landlords should initiate a review of the lease agreement. If the lease allows for additional tenants, landlords should offer to add the newly adult resident as a formal tenant with the requisite background checks and financial assessments. If the lease does not permit additional tenants, landlords can discuss options, such as amending the lease or renegotiating rent terms if applicable.

Clear communication and compliance with local laws are essential. Landlords should ensure that all residents understand their rights and responsibilities, fostering a transparent and harmonious landlord-tenant relationship while adhering to legal requirements.


  • Karina Jugo

    Karina Jugo is a content administrator at RentPost who works directly with real estate and property management experts to create resources and guides for property managers. She has more than 15 years of experience in content research and writing for various industries.

  • Jacob Thomason

    Jacob Thomason is the CEO and co-founder of RentPost, software platform providing property managers, landlord or owners with the tools necessary for property management. Jacob is a software entrepreneur with with a vast array of expertise ranging from business concept design to software architecture and development. He is running RentPost for more than 14 years and helping property managers and property owners.

Was this helpful?