Taking on a roommate can give you many advantages including shared household expenses, lower rent, and additional company. However, bringing a co-tenant into your rental without the proper permission and steps can be considered illegal subletting.
Depending on your state and the terms of your lease, you may be financially penalized or even evicted. Even so, adding someone to your existing lease is fairly common. The process should be approached from an above board and legal position in order to ensure that both you and your landlord are fully covered.
Here are the 5 steps you should follow when adding a roommate to your lease.
Approach your landlord first
Before you make any promises to share your rental. If he agrees to consider it, he will most likely want to screen any potential roommates and place them under the same obligations and restrictions as you.
Make sure your prospective roommate is prepared to share credit information and provide referrals as well as filling out an application.
Draft a New Lease Agreement
Once your new roommate passes the landlord’s tenant screening criteria, he will draft a new lease agreement and ask you both to sign.
This protects your landlord because it creates a new tenant that is legally obligated to pay rent and will be responsible for any damages.
This is also beneficial for you because it keeps you from being liable for all of the responsibilities of a rental in case your roommate doesn’t pull their weight.
Consider If Rent Will Increase When Adding a Roommate
When a landlord agrees to a co-tenant, he must also consider the fact that an additional person in the property can lead to more wear and tear on the unit.
This means that your monthly rent may increase unless you are protected by rent control.
If taking on a roommate is something you are considering as a way to save money, read the lease carefully to make sure that you are clear on the new amount in the lease agreement before you sign.
Will Security Deposit Increase by Adding Roommate
Your landlord may also require an increased security deposit. Even if you have already paid the maximum security deposit for a single tenant (usually two month’s rent), your landlord is within his rights to increase the deposit if the rent is also increased.
Dissolve Original Lease
Work with your landlord to make sure that your original lease is dissolved to make way for the new lease without the financial consequences that usually come from breaking a rental agreement.
Remember that when you sign a new lease, you start the clock again at a year, unless it specifically states that you are a month-to-month tenant.
Whether or not you find that that bringing in a roommate is beneficial for you, you still benefit from working responsibly with your landlord to work it out.
Keep in mind that he will be a referral source for you in the next place you go and whether you choose to take someone on or decide to run the lease out at your current location and then move, his good word matters.