A signed rental lease agreement is very specific about who’s allowed to live in the rental property. So what happens when your tenant wants someone to move in?
The adults named on a lease agreement are legally responsible for the property—from rent and utilities to security deposits and damages. The lease agreement is designed to protect the rights of both the landlord and the tenant, so if people are living in a rental property who aren’t on the lease, it can cause serious legal problems for both parties.
As a landlord, you can reduce your risk of unscreened and unapproved “tenants” by letting your current renters know the proper procedure for adding someone to the lease agreement.
Stress that the lease agreement prohibits having other residents living in the rental without permission and that violating that is grounds for eviction. Inform your tenants that there is an appropriate and legal way to add someone to the lease agreement.
Add a Tenant to Your Lease in 5 Steps
When your tenant approaches you about adding someone to the lease, follow these 5 steps to either approve or deny the request the right way:
Step 1: Obtain a Written Request
Invite the tenant to submit in writing the request to add another person to the lease. Whether it’s a student seeking a new roommate or a single person wanting a significant other to move in, a written request can start the process.
Step 2: Check the Property’s Occupancy Limit
Make sure that the tenant’s request does not cause the household to exceed the rental property’s occupancy limit (as set by local statues and ordinances). If it does, send written notification that the request for an additional resident has been denied and why. If not, move on to the next step.
Step 3: Acquire a Completed Rental Application
Send the tenant an official tenant application form for the potential roommate and ask for it to be returned by a certain date. Each new person on a lease agreement must fill out a rental application so you can perform a tenant background check and reference check.
Step 4: Make a Decision
If you deny the application, send the tenant notice in writing that the application is denied. Be careful about violating any privacy agreements between you and the applicant. If the application is approved, invite the tenant and the prospective roommate to sign a new lease agreement or a legal amendment to the current lease.
Step 5: Review the Details With the Tenants
Meet with the tenants and explain the details of an additional security deposit and the amended lease. Remind the tenants that they are both responsible for the whole rent amount, even if one person does not pay their portion.
Go over the lease agreement with the new tenant so he or she has a detailed understanding of the rules and policies of the rental property. Sign and date the new lease or the lease amendment and make copies for everyone.
Be sure to screen the tenant first:
If you’re adding an occupant to a lease agreement you want to screen that tenant first.
The last thing you want is a new tenant that will be a headache for you and current tenants.
Learn more about the tenant screening process by reading our guide.