Amending a lease FAQs
To change an existing lease, you'll need to make a Lease Amendment document and usually notify the tenant of the change at least 30 days in advance. The amendment should be saved along with the original lease for your records. The most common lease changes include adding a pet provision or adding a roommate. If you need to make major lease changes, it may be best to wait until the end of the term of the lease. If you have questions about changing a lease, ask a lawyer.
It is common for tenants to ask you permission to move in a roommate either for financial reasons or because they want to live with someone. If your renter has been a good tenant so far, it may be in everyone's best interest to consider allowing a roommate to be added to the lease. They may even ask to move to another unit that would better accommodate more tenants. Again, if they've been responsible tenants thus far, it may be worth changing the lease. You should consider vetting the new roommate with a Rental Application, just as you would a new tenant. It is also important to make sure you would not be violating any occupancy laws by adding another person to the residential unit. Before approving the roommate and changing the lease, you might also want to consider whether you will need additional rent and/or deposit, and whether or not you will hold the original tenant responsible for the full rent if the roommate doesn't work out as planned.
While many landlords choose not to allow subleases, you may be asked by your tenants if they can sublet. They may be traveling or moving away for a bit, but want to keep their rental, or perhaps their job is requiring that they relocate and they need someone to finish the terms of their lease. Subletting may be beneficial to you, since the new tenant can most often move in without you having to do the regular move-in/ move-out maintenance. Plus, it keeps the unit occupied and rent money coming in. As with any prospective tenant, you should consider running a background check, verifying their income, and everything else you would do to approve a new tenant. If you decide that you will allow subletting, you'll need to make a Sublease Agreement and attach that to the original lease. The original tenant and sublessee will both be responsible for the original terms of the lease and if the new tenant doesn't pay rent, the original signer will still be responsible.
Adding a pet is simple. To add a pet, you make a Pet Addendum and attach it to the original lease. When creating the Addendum make sure you do not violate any local laws such as breed discrimination or required service animal accommodations. You may want to consider adding a pet deposit and pet rent if allowable by law. In most cases, you can ask that the animal be properly licensed, spayed or neutered, and up-to-date on their vaccinations. Our Pet Addendum document also includes information about the landlord's right to break the agreement, a statement about how the tenant will be responsible for any damages caused by the animal, and an indemnification clause.
In most cases, you cannot raise rent until the end of the lease. In rent-controlled buildings, there are additional limitations that you'll need to comply with. You will also need to give adequate notice. If a tenant's lease is soon to expire, you generally need to let them know a month in advance and communicate whether or not you plan to offer them a new lease. If you are planning to raise the rent, this is can be a good time to tell them. That way, they have 30 days to find a new rental if they don't want to sign a new lease. In some areas, you may need to notify your tenants of rent changes even more than 30 days in advance. Unless you are leasing units in a rent-controlled building, you are often not limited on how much you can raise the rent. With a bit of market research, you should be able to decide what fair rent would be in that neighborhood. Sometimes it even makes more sense to not raise the rent if it would cause expensive vacancies. You'll have to figure out what makes financial sense for your situation. Landlord-tenant laws vary by locality, so be sure to ask to lawyer to understand what rules apply to you.