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Tip #19: Bringing in Roommates After the Lease is Signed
Having a roommate qualification procedure will help keep good residents
by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM
RoommatesIn some areas where the economy has not “stimulated”, many tenants who rented as “singles” are approaching their landlord about taking in a roommate…..landlords who say NO face lost rent and a vacancy depending on their tenant’s financial situation so having a policy to accommodate their tenants is a MUST.

Provide tenants with applications and require that their roommate complete it and return it to you. Charge any application or credit check fee as appropriate. Screen the applicant and if they pass, offer your tenant the option of approving them as an AUTHORIZED OCCUPANT under the current lease OR offer to re-write the lease and place them on record as a tenant who is jointly and severally responsible for the remainder of the lease term. I charge a fee for this lease re-write.

Option #1 allows your tenant to remain in control of the rented dwelling in case their new roommate does not work out.

Option #2 allows the landlord or property manager to now have 2 tenants on the hook for the rent AND responsibilities under the lease terms. The security deposit at the inception of the lease remains the possession of the original tenant and the roommate should pay any deposit directly to the current tenant and they handle any disposition of the deposits between themselves. The landlord/property manager is not involved until the end of the lease or the unit is entirely vacant so that an inspection can be conducted.

Wallace Gibson, CPM, is the owner/broker of Gibson Management Group, Ltd., a full-service property management company offering 45 years of professional property management services for investment property owners in Central Virginia * Charlottesville, Fluvanna, Louisa and Greene counties. Her firms website is and she blogs at

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  • Margaret Williams

    This article describes pretty much what I’ve been doing with tenants who take in roommates. Our tenants are on a lease for one year, then automatically go month-to-month after that. It’s something to do with Los Angeles Rent Control laws. How does a new roommate fit into that? We’re under rent control and allowed to raise the rent after one year. However, in the past, the new roommate has been left as the sole tenant without ever having had a one-year lease. When the left behind roommate brings in a replacement roommate, we’re stuck with a permanent month-to-month tenancy. I advise new roommates that the rent goes up in January and they will have to agree to that, but I’m not sure we’re doing the right thing.

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