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What are the benefits of adding a renter’s adult child to a lease?

It is a best practice for landlords to include all adults residing at a property on the Lease Agreement. Doing so clarifies who lives at the property, as well as each adult’s financial responsibility for the property. This may include who is expected to pay rent, utilities, or cover the cost of damage to the property. It can also be the basis for a rent increase.

When an adult child moves in with a parent who is renting, adding them to the lease can reduce the risk of a landlord having to cover expenses that would typically be the responsibility of the tenant according to a lease or local laws. It also protects the tenants themselves since it prevents an individual renter from abandoning the property and sticking the remaining renters with the rent and other expenses.

How can I set up a lease with a renter’s adult child?

Begin by explaining to the original renter that any adult children living with them are expected to be named in the lease. You might discuss the benefits of naming all adults residing at a property on the lease and highlight the risks of failing to do so for both landlords and renters.

Once the renter agrees, bring the adult child into the conversation to clarify the division of financial responsibilities, including rent, utilities, and other household costs. Find out whether the renters intend for the adult child to assume full responsibility for rent and other costs associated with the property or whether they simply wish to be named on the lease. Ask whether the original renter intends to charge the adult child rent and, if so, whether they intend to create a Sublease Agreement. Note that even if the original renter doesn’t intend for the adult child to assume any financial responsibility, or stay permanently, it is still beneficial for property management and legal reasons to name adult children on the lease.

The easiest way to add adult children to an existing lease is by having everyone sign a Lease Amendment. You can also add adult children to a lease that is set to expire soon using a Lease Renewal Agreement.

What if my tenant or their adult child does not want to sign a new lease or a Lease Amendment?

Start by identifying the precise reason why the tenant or adult child doesn’t want to sign a new lease or a Lease Amendment. Many concerns can be addressed by including conditions about specific situations in the lease, or Lease Amendment. Often, tenants may be reluctant when it is for a short period of time, such as for the summer, or a few months. The amendment or updated lease can, however, specify what happens if either the original renter or the adult child moves out or stops paying rent, and the other wishes to continue residing on the property.

If lease conditions do not solve the problem, consider alternatives such as asking the adult child to sign a Co-Signer Agreement or a conditional Lease Assumption Agreement. Both agreements make signers responsible for rent and other expenses if the original renter becomes unable or unwilling to pay. Landlords can also offer incentives to induce reluctant tenants to add adult children to the lease, such as agreeing to freeze rent increases for a period of time, offering a temporary rent discount, or updating the property.

If the renters absolutely refuse to add adult children to the lease, consider asking the tenant to leave the property (along with their adult children) so you can find a new tenant. You can also wait until the current lease expires and refuse to renew the lease, or send a Rent Increase Letter to indicate that you intend to raise the rent unless the renters agree to name the adult child in the new lease. Be sure to check state and local eviction laws to be sure such actions are allowed in your area.

What other factors are important to consider when adding an adult child to a lease?

The first consideration in determining whether to add an adult child to a lease is whether the property can support more tenants. Nearly every state and locality has laws that require a certain amount of space per renter. Check your city’s building code to verify that adding another tenant to your property does not risk pushing your property over your area’s legal limit.

Next, consider how long the adult child intends to stay. Both the lease and state or local laws may limit the period of time the adult child may reside at the property as a guest without being named on the lease. At the same time, it may not be worth the hassle to add adult children who intend to remain for only a short time period with a definite end date, such as college students who come home for the summer.

Finally, consider whether the adult child is likely to be a respectful, financially responsible tenant. Ask the adult child to fill out the same Rental Application on file for the original tenant before agreeing to add them to the lease. At minimum, conduct background and credit checks for all adults living at the property. Always be mindful of the Fair Housing Act’s requirements as well as other federal, state, and local laws that protect tenants’ rights to privacy and prohibit discrimination.

Can parents sublease to their adult kids?

Yes, parents may generally sublease to their adult children. This is particularly common for children who live with their parents as minors and continue to live there after, or move back in, as adults.

Leases typically require landlord consent before renters sublease. Landlords may also require that all tenants, including subtenants, be responsible for the terms of the original lease, including agreements about quiet hours and taking care of the property. Ultimately, however, the subtenant is legally responsible to the tenant with whom they made the Sublease Agreement.

If you have more questions about adding another tenant to an existing lease, or updating your agreement or policies, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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