What's the difference between an tenant and occupant?

You can add someone to a lease as either an occupant or tenant. There are some important differences and depending on the situation it may make more sense to add someone as an occupant rather than a tenant (or vice-versa). 

  • A tenant is a party to the lease agreement and takes on the full responsibilities of the apartment lease. 
  • An occupant is someone that is allowed to live in the apartment, obtain an apartment key, and use the building's amenities.

Example: Consider a family with a child. The parents would be the tenants on the lease and the child would be an occupant. As the tenants, the parents take on full responsibility for all the lease terms, making payments, etc. As an occupant, the child has permission to live in the apartment like any other tenant, but isn't responsible for for certain lease terms (see overview in table below). Note that tenants are still responsible for the actions of their occupants. 

Who's responsible for: Tenant Occupant
ALL lease terms Yes No
Payments Yes No
Apartment rules (e.g., guest policy, noise issues) Yes Yes*

*If an occupant breaks a rule, the tenants can be held responsible. For instance, if an occupant throws a loud party that leads to noise complaints, the noise complaint notice would be addressed to the tenants. In a worst-case-scenario, the actions of an occupant could lead to the eviction of all the people living in an apartment -- both the occupant AND tenants. The point being: Tenants are responsible for the actions of their occupants. 

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