An Add/Remove a Tenant Amendment is a legal contract that modifies a lease agreement and adds a new tenant or removes a tenant from the original lease agreement. Once both parties sign the amendment, it becomes legally binding and a part of the original lease agreement.
Note: All tenants (including those being added or removed) must sign this amendment.
Can a Landlord Deny Adding Someone to a Lease?
Before understanding why and how to prepare this amendment, many landlords want to first know whether they can deny adding someone to a lease. The short answer is, yes. Just as you can reject any other applicant, a landlord can reject the request to add a new tenant to an existing lease. The basis for rejecting a tenant should be consistent with standard applicant screening which can include:
- Inadequate capacity in the rental unit
- Low credit score
- Excessive debt
- Inadequate income
- Employment history or references
- Rental history, including previous evictions or poor feedback from a previous landlord
- Missing or inaccurate application or supporting documents
- Disagreement with the original lease terms or new terms being requested by the landlord
However, there are certain reasons a landlord cannot use to deny adding someone to an existing lease agreement. Those include the individual belonging to any of the protected classes provided in The Fair Housing Act (FHA). These protected classes include race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, and familial status.
While landlords are not obligated to add a new tenant, there are some good reasons for doing so. Those include:
- Charging Higher Rent – Landlords are often able to charge higher rent when allowing an existing tenant to add another individual to the lease agreement. This may be a necessity if the rent includes certain costs such as utilities.
- Avoiding Late or No Rent Payment – Allowing a tenant to add another tenant may avoid a situation in which the current tenant is unable to afford to pay rent. If a landlord is aware of a situation in which a tenant is struggling to pay their monthly rent, it may benefit the landlord to add another person to the lease that can assist with making payments.
Whether you decide to add a tenant or not you should screen the individual just as you would with any other applicant. If you deny the request to add someone to the lease and you have screened them, you should send them a Rental Application Rejection Letter to formalize the reason for the rejection in writing.
Why Use an Amendment to Add or Remove a Tenant?
Circumstances often change for tenants from the time they signed their lease agreement. Those circumstances may result in wanting to add a new tenant to their lease agreement or parting ways with someone who no longer wants to live there. These reasons might include:
- A New Relationship – A tenant may have developed a serious relationship with someone and they want to take the next step to move in together. Most lease agreements will have restrictions on having additional individuals live at a rental unit without being a party to the lease agreement. A formal amendment will be needed before that person moves in.
- A Former Relationship – Similar to a new relationship, a tenant might want to be removed from the lease agreement if they have ended a relationship with the other tenant and plan to to move out.
- Help with Costs – Maybe a tenant suffered a pay cut or had unexpected expenses. They may consider finding a roommate to split the costs if there is enough space in the rental unit.
When these situations arise, there are practical reasons why a landlord should prepare a formal amendment as opposed to a verbal agreement. Those include:
- Resolution of Legal Obligations – Without an amendment, an individual that no longer lives at a rental property is still liable for rent and any other costs that are part of the lease agreement. In addition, the individual leaving the rental unit will have to wait until the end of the lease period to receive their share of the security deposit.
- Avoid Future Legal Issues – A landlord may have no problem with a new person living at the property. However, the lease agreement only holds the tenant that signed the agreement responsible. Having the new individual added can protect the landlord from having someone live at the property that is not legally bound by any of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.
There are instances when a tenant may have someone stay at their property even if they did not notify their landlord. If a landlord is suspicious, they may want to ask the tenant or conduct a routine inspection of the property to make sure the tenant is not violating their lease agreement. If there is a violation, they should immediately send the tenant an Unauthorized Occupant Violation Notice.
What to Include in an Add/Remove a Tenant Amendment
An Add/Remove a Tenant Amendment should include the following:
- Type of Amendment: indicate whether it is to add or remove a tenant
- Date of the amendment
- Landlord’s name
- Landlord’s business address
- Tenant’s name
- Tenant’s rental property address
- Date of the original lease agreement
- Acknowledgment that this Amendment modifies the original lease agreement
- Option 1: check the box indicating that the amendment is to add a tenant and include the individual’s name. It should also provide an acknowledgment that the new tenant received and agrees to be bound by the original lease agreement
- Option 2: check the box indicating that the amendment is to remove a tenant and include the individual’s name. It should also note that the former tenant is no longer bound by the terms of the lease agreement but that the remaining tenant(s) must still abide by the agreement
- Landlord’s signature and date
- Tenant’s signature and date
Our template provides landlords with the standard elements used in an amendment to add or remove a tenant. However, the situation may require the amendment to address some additional information. This may include:
- Rent Increases – A landlord may agree to add a new tenant with the condition that the tenants pay a higher monthly rent.
- Security Deposit – In addition to an increase in rent, a landlord may request a larger security deposit to protect against any additional damages or wear and tear that may occur with a new tenant.
- Move-In/Move-Out Date – If not the date of the signing of the amendment, it may include information on the specific date the new tenant will move in or the current tenant will move out.
- Miscellaneous – There may be other items that need to be addressed due to the impact of having a new tenant. For instance, the lease agreement may only provide for one parking spot. The amendment may provide for an additional parking spot or indicate that an additional parking spot will not be provided for the new tenant.
Just like with the original lease agreement, both parties should have a signed copy of this amendment. The amendment is now part of the original lease agreement and should be kept with it.
When adding a tenant, if a significant number of new terms are required, the landlord may consider having the tenants sign a new lease agreement. Or the landlord may prepare separate amendments to deal with each change on its own. For instance, the landlord may address the rent with an Increase in Rent Amendment. These options may be clearer than an amendment addressing multiple sections of the lease agreement.
Once the amendment has been signed the landlord can take the next steps depending on whether the amendment was to add or remove a tenant. If adding a tenant this may include:
- Collecting any additional security deposit
- Providing a set of keys
- Sending a Tenant Welcome Letter
If removing a tenant from the lease the landlord may:
- Return a portion of the security deposit
- Provide a landlord reference letter to help the former tenant secure new housing
Conduct a landlord inspection to check on the condition of the property