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Adding a Roommate to Your Lease

Communication Is Important

Leasing is a popular way for people to find suitable housing at affordable prices. A residential lease agreement generally lasts for a period of 12 months, but they can be set for any term the landlord and tenant agree upon. One of the challenges of an extended lease for the tenant is if an event occurs that requires them to take on a roommate, change a roommate, or add a person to the lease, such as a fiancé. When this occurs, it is important to communicate the intention with the landlord so as not to violate the existing lease agreement.

Rewrites May Be Needed

It is reasonable to expect that when adding a person to an existing lease agreement, the landlord will want the new person to become a co-tenant, which will give that person the same rights and responsibilities as the original tenant. Many times, the landlord will want to rewrite the lease agreement to reflect the new tenancy. Prior to this, a landlord will usually subject the prospective tenant to a thorough screening process that will check credit history, criminal background, employment verification, and rental history.

Any prospective roommates should be asked to provide this information prior to presenting them to the landlord. This helps to find any problems before they arise and gives the tenant and the prospective roommate a chance to develop an explanation of any negative marks.

All Involved Should Sign a New Lease

It is usually best for all involved to sign a new lease agreement if the landlord accepts the new tenant. This protects the original tenant, the landlord, and the new tenant as well by making sure everyone understands their obligations under the lease agreement and the rights they maintain while it is in effect.

The Monthly Rent and Security Deposit

It is not uncommon for a landlord to increase the monthly rent when another person occupies the premises due to increased wear and tear on the property. It is also not uncommon for a landlord to request additional security deposit money if a roommate is added to the lease agreement, so be prepared for this possibility.

Generally speaking, many landlords do not have a problem adding a roommate to an existing lease agreement, especially if the potential roommate has excellent credit and references. The addition of another tenant helps to ensure that there are broader resources to pay the rent on time. However, it is also not uncommon for the landlord to take the opportunity to increase the rent, so that possibility should be considered prior to committing to adding a roommate to a lease.

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