Rules on adding new tenant to lease
by Robert Griswold
Q: I have lived by myself in an apartment for the last 12 years. I am planning to get married in the fall and I am in the middle of a 12-month lease where I am the only authorized tenant. The lease is actually quite favorable, as I renewed it last December when the landlord was offering a great incentive for lease renewals.
My concern is that if my wife moves in with me, the landlord might consider me to be in violation of my lease and could renegotiate to the much higher rental rate that new incoming tenants are now paying for a comparable apartment. What can I do to maintain my current favorable lease terms if my wife moves in with me?
A: I could see some landlords taking the position that bringing in a new adult tenant who is not authorized in the lease could be grounds for a claim that you have violated the lease. However, a prudent landlord will look at this as a positive move in these tough economic times, as there will be two potential income earners that can help cover the rent.
Of course, communication here is essential and you should immediately contact your landlord and be upfront with him about your plans. Tell him that you would like to add your future wife to the lease and will have her complete a rental application as soon as possible. You might even see if he is willing to extend the current lease or sign a new lease at comparable terms for another 12 months.
Good tenants are always a valuable commodity, and savvy landlords now more than ever should be willing to work with their long-term, problem-free tenants. You are an asset to the building and it is unlikely that your landlord will seek to leverage the change in your family status to break your lease.
If you still believe that your landlord will have reservations, then you might want to consider preparing a narrative or almost a brief resume of the qualifications of your wife as a prospective tenant. In other words, if she has a good tenant history then you could provide references or maybe she can get a reference letter from her current landlord.
This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of “Property Management for Dummies” and “Property Management Kit for Dummies” and co-author of “Real Estate Investing for Dummies.” E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually.