Are tenants responsible for their guests violating terms in the lease? For example if a lease says "no smoking in the building" and an invited guest smokes, could the tenant be held responsible?

What should a contract contain to show that any guests are the responsibility of the tenants? I've seen "tenants are responsible for their guests actions" but I'm not sure if this is enough as couldn't a tenant argue "I agreed to follow the terms in the lease, but my guest never did, therefore no violation has occurred." Could a contract say "guests are not allowed to smoke" and still be enforceable considering the guests never signed the contract?

  • 2
    The guests may not have signed the lease; but neither has the landlord agreed to their access to the property, or run a background check. Was damage caused as a result of a decision of the tenant to permit a guest and to not stop any smoking? The tenant owes the landlord and the guest owes the tenant.
    – user662852
    Apr 2, 2016 at 12:25
  • Do contracts have to explicitly say "tenants and their guests?" Seems implicit to me but I'm no lawyer. If a tenant failed to inform the guest then that's on them--the tenants. Apr 2, 2016 at 14:49
  • @user662852 I don't follow you're reasoning. In most places I know of it's actually illegal for a landlord to deny the tenant from having guests. For example if the tenant has family over, the landlord can't say that's not allowed. Apr 3, 2016 at 22:27
  • @TimSpriggs I guess I see you're reasoning, are you saying it's the tenants responsibility to ensure everything in the lease is enforced? I guess I'm unclear on that. For example if the landlord comes into the house and breaks a term, such as smoking inside, would that still be the tenants fault? Apr 3, 2016 at 22:28
  • "breaks a term?" Now I'm confused. Apr 3, 2016 at 22:42

1 Answer 1


As a starting point, if you agree to do something in a contract then that is what you must do. Therefore, if you sign a lease that says "no smoking in the building" then you must make sure that there is no smoking in the building.

However, you are not required to do things that are impossible, either physically impossible or legally impossible. So your obligation is to ensure no smoking in the building to the limit of your power.

If you have guests, you must ensure they do not smoke, by telling them not to if you know they are smokers and by telling them not to if you discover them smoking or about to smoke. As your guests, they have a legal obligation to follow your lawful and reasonable requests; if they do not then you can revoke your permission for them to be on your premises. If they then refuse to leave then they are trespassing and you can call the police to have them removed. If you did this, then you would not be responsible because you have done all that is legally possible.

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