How to add a roommate to your lease

There are two ways to bring a new roommate into your rental: have them live with you as an occupant or subtenant, or officially add them to the lease agreement.

When you’re bringing anyone new into your apartment, the first question you need to answer is whether or not you want to add them as a co-tenant. Adding someone to the lease while it’s ongoing is generally pretty difficult because landlords don’t like making lease modifications that expose them to additional risk. If you can convince them to add someone new to the lease, they will require the same application that you filled out in order to get the lease—usually a rental history report, credit check, and income verification.

Otherwise, they can live with you as an occupant—someone who occupies a rental unit without having signed a lease agreement with the landlord. A subletter is also considered an occupant, because their sublease is with you, rather than the landlord.

What are the benefits of adding someone to my lease?

If your roommate is on the lease, then one benefit is that your landlord is more likely to take action quickly should they do anything wrong. Landlords sometimes don’t want to get involved with people who aren’t officially tenants. It also means that you’re both equally responsible for paying the rent in full each month and keeping the apartment in good shape.

Are there any downsides to adding a roommate to my lease?

As discussed above, it’s harder (and sometimes impossible) to add a roommate to your existing lease agreement. And, even if your landlord agrees to it, they may bump up your rent because of the additional tenant. They may also increase your security deposit—if your state doesn’t cap how much they can charge, that is.

One more thing to consider: when you’re the only one on the lease with your landlord, you have the ability to evict your roommate if they’re not paying the rent or breaking the terms of their sublet agreement. If you’re both on the lease, and there’s a term that holds you “joint and severally liable,” then you and your roommate have to be evicted as a unit—even if you’re not doing anything wrong.

How do I add someone new to my lease?

Each state has different rules for new co-tenants, but generally if you want to add someone to your lease agreement, you’ll have to get your landlord to agree. The best way to do this is to find someone who is as qualified as you and have them fill out a standard rental application or the building’s custom rental agreement. Make sure that they meet the income and credit requirements first, and that they don’t have a history of evictions. You can send your proposed co-tenant’s application to your landlord along with a simple letter summarizing your request.

Can someone live with me without being on the lease?

To protect tenants who need to live with family, most states have laws in place that give you the right to have someone move into your rental unit without adding them to the lease. For instance, New York’s so-called “Roommate Law” gives any tenant who is the only one on their lease the right to share their apartment with one other unrelated adult. (Tenants are always allowed to move family members into their apartment without adding them to their lease in New York, as long as the rental doesn’t end up being overcrowded according to local occupancy limits.)

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by Cynthia Wren

September 1, 2016

  • Blog
  • Tenant Viewpoint

How to add a roommate to your lease

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.

Table of Contents

  • Communication Is Important
  • Rewrites May Be Needed
  • The Monthly Rent and Security Deposit

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

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.

LegalNature can help you with all of your legal form needs. Let us help you get started today. Click here to create your lease agreement forms now.

by Stephen Michael White

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.
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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.

6 Comments

You moving in could absolutely be reason for them to write a new lease. And they can increase the rent if a new lease is agreed upon.

Most leases are written to not allow unauthorized occupants. Which means the new occupant would have to qualify and pass the screening criteria. I’ve never seen an open ended lease that states anyone can move into the unit whenever they wish. Soooo, no, she cannot refuse to sign a lease and expect to be allowed to stay. Or expect the boyfriend won’t be called out for violating the terms of the existing lease.

Hi if a person moves into a department of housing unit as a 24 hr live in carer he is on the lease as an add on tenant does he pay rent as a carer or part rent
Thanks mark a carer

I have a question? I currently have a tenant.Her lease is now month to month and she wants her male friend to move (daughters father) in with her.I just want to know if I have start a new lease with her and him signing it together (provided if his screen passes)and do I raise the current rent that she is paying on her own higher because someone else will be leasing with her? ,also does he have to pay a deposit separated from her because she is still living there and he will be a new tenant for me? and if he does have to pay a deposit how much should I charge him ?and how much should I ask for rent now that the both of them are there together.

Same questions as the above person

Hello
I hope that you can help me. I have requested that my name be added to the lease of the property that is currently only in my mother’s name. We’ve been here for four years and I have basically been approved BUT they will not send out the paperwork unless I pay a fee of $380.
This seems a little unorthodox to me. I understand that there could be admin costs but $380 seems a little exorbitant?
Is this legal?

Table of Contents

  • Communication Is Important
  • Rewrites May Be Needed
  • The Monthly Rent and Security Deposit

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

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.

LegalNature can help you with all of your legal form needs. Let us help you get started today. Click here to create your lease agreement forms now.

How to add a roommate to your lease

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  • Do I Need to Give Notice If I Have No Lease Agreement?
  • Owning and Operating an Apartment Complex

Having a roommate can ease financial strain by helping with the rent and utility bills. By adding your new roommate to the lease, she will become liable for a portion of the rent and any damages that occur while you both live there. Updating the lease to include your roommate should be a fairly simple process, though it is imperative to follow the procedures laid out by your landlord. The laws regarding these types of processes can vary between states and landlords.

Review your lease to be sure that you are permitted to add a roommate. Most often, the number of bedrooms in the rental property will determine how many people can live there. For example, the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco explains that a two bedroom apartment in San Francisco may have five occupants; two in each bedroom and one on a sofa bed. Make sure that you will still be in compliance with the lease and your state’s law when you add the extra person to your household.

Double check with your landlord; make sure that you understand the lease correctly and that you are indeed allowed to add another person to your home. Obtain the proper measures for adding the roommate, such as the appropriate forms to fill out and move in dates. Your landlord may want to do a walk-through of the rental property before your roommate moves in to document any current damages.

Ask your roommate to fill out a rental application and submit a credit report. Many landlords require these types of forms; having them prepared in advance can help both you and the roommate to appear responsible. Submit any other forms or information that your landlord requires, as long as they are in accordance with your particular state’s laws.

Sign a new lease if required to do so by your landlord. The property manager may just include an addition to the current lease or she might want you to sign an entirely new lease, valid for one full year.

Pay any additional fees associated with the addition of the roommate. These may include an application fee or an additional security deposit. Your rent may increase as well, depending on state laws and your landlord’s preference.

If you are thinking about asking someone to live with you and share expenses, then you should learn what is required to add a roommate to your lease.

Be aware that if your lease specifically states that no roommates are allowed, you could be evicted by adding a roommate in violation of this clause.

Adding a roommate to your lease shouldn’t be very complicated. First of all, you should inform your landlord. Then, get an idea of what to expect from your new roommate. For example, are they willing to commit to the entire lease term, and pay rent on time? Will they be responsible and clean and obey all rules and regulations of the lease? Before even considering adding a roommate, make sure that whomever you choose is compatible and financially responsible; otherwise, you could be facing a dispute down the road.

The following information will help you make the right decisions when adding a roommate, including steps that will help protect you legally.

Get the Landlord’s Approval

First, let your landlord know that you wish to add an additional roommate. Then, read your lease carefully; it will usually contain a clause about occupancy limits, so make sure that adding a roommate will not violate those limits. Your lease may also contain other provisions about what constitutes a “good tenant,” so be sure that your prospective roommate also qualifies. Finally, it may be useful to have your prospective roommate attach his or her credit report along with the request.

New Roommate, New Lease

In the event of your landlords accepting letting you add a roommate and your prospective roommate passes a credit check, they may ask you to sign a new agreement. Some landlords may allow you to modify your existing lease, but don’t count on it. Signing a new lease assures that your new roommate is completely liable for rent alongside you, so it’s for your benefit as well. From the landlord’s perspective, they are not interested in working out disputes between roommates and will expect both parties to adhere to the rules.

If you choose to sublet your apartment, perhaps a room or a bed, first ensure that it’s allowed. If it’s not in the lease agreement, then make sure you ask your landlord.

New Roommate, New Rent

It may seem odd that you should suddenly be paying more money for the exact same space, but landlords assume that more tenants cause more wear and tear. Also because you will usually have to sign a new lease, the landlord is entitled to include any rent increases that have occurred since you last signed.

Security Deposit Increase

Besides an increase in rent, your landlord will most likely ask you for an additional security deposit as well. It is probably a good idea to have your roommate submit a security deposit; it will make sure both tenants share responsibilities.

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Can Someone Co-sign for a Lease?

If you want to add a roommate or your significant other to an apartment lease, your landlord probably will require a thorough credit check. However, just because your potential roommate has poor credit does not mean your landlord will automatically refuse the arrangement. In some cases, the landlord may agree not to run a credit check. In other cases, the landlord may allow a roommate with substandard credit.

Landlords usually want to run a credit check on anybody added to a lease to ensure the person can afford to pay rent and does not have a history of late or unpaid bills. However, you could try working out an arrangement with the landlord if your new roommate has bad credit.

Leases and Credit Reports

Both leases and month-to-month rental agreements are legal documents that protect landlords and their properties. Generally, leases specify how much rent is due and what tenants cannot do on the property, such as own pets. Landlords check credit reports because they want to ensure their tenants can abide by the terms of the lease. If the credit report shows a long history of unpaid or late bills, the landlord may decide not to add the tenant to the lease for fear that the tenant will be unable to pay rent or cover repairs.

Adding a Roommate

When you ask a landlord to add a roommate to your lease, you are asking that the roommate share legal responsibility for the apartment. For this reason, landlords generally require a review of the roommate’s credit. They want to ensure that, like you, your potential roommate has a history of paying bills on time and can afford to pay rent. Your landlord probably also will ask to verify your potential roommate’s employment and ensure she does not have a criminal background before agreeing to add her to the lease.

Exceptions to Credit Checks

Not all landlords will ask to review your potential roommate’s credit before putting his name on the lease. For example, if your proposed roommate is a minor, your landlord may review his parents’ credit and put their names on the lease. Further, if you or another person with good credit is willing to be used as a co-signer, your landlord may be willing to add your roommate to the lease. However, if you choose to serve as a co-signer, you must be aware that if your roommate does not pay his bills or causes damage, you are financially and legally responsible.

Other Options for Your Roommate

If your potential roommate does not meet your landlord’s credit criteria, there may be other options that will allow you to live together. First, you can ask your landlord if the roommate can live with you but stay off the lease. Many landlords allow this. However, if you choose this option, you must remember that you are responsible for back rent and damage, even if it is your roommate’s fault. Second, you can ask your potential roommate to apply for housing assistance, such as the federal Section 8 program. Landlords are more likely to accept tenants with poor credit histories if they know the majority of their rent will be paid by the government.