Featured News 2014 How to Add a Roommate to a Lease or Rental Agreement

How to Add a Roommate to a Lease or Rental Agreement

Finding a roommate can be hard enough, but when it comes time to deal with the legal implications of getting a new roommate, you need to understand your options, as well as be prepared for the fresh difficulties you could face. For instance, do you want the new roommate to become a co-tenant, who shares a lease agreement with you, or would it be better for all involved for the roommate to be a subtenant, someone who doesn't have to worry about dealing with your landlord? Or do you even have these options? Meeting your landlord's requirements can make this a tricky venture at times.

Landlord Approval

First things first, a roommate cannot legally move in until a landlord gives permission. While the roommate you've picked may have a résumé and credit score that is fine with you, your landlord could be even pickier. If you were vetted by the landlord before your application was accepted, run through the same screening process when you choose a potential roommate, remembering what credit score, job history, and character references the landlord had required of you. You also have to consider whether or not there is an occupancy limit that has been set for your place. There may not be a way to go around this if a new tenant would put you over that limit.

Co-Tenancy vs. Sub-tenancy

If you get the landlord's approval, you may or may not have two options. Your landlord may prefer for the roommate to be signed onto a new lease or month-to-month rental agreement, making him or her a co-tenant with you, someone who clearly shares duties with you and can be evicted by your landlord. At this point, your rent could go up, however, as you would also be signing the new lease or rental agreement. A new co-tenant means a new a lease. This can mean paying more in rent, and paying more toward the security deposit. You could even be faced with new lease terms.

If the landlord is okay with it, however, you could have the alternative route of signing on the roommate as a subtenant, making you the landlord, giving you the power to evict the roomer if necessary. Of course, eviction is easier said than done, and that is sometimes tricky to pull off. If you have trouble with a roomer, the landlord could even evict you in an effort to evict your subtenant.

Whether you need to know how to assert your rights under a lease, need to sublet your apartment, or you are having difficulties with an attempted eviction, there are numerous scenarios where you will need to consult a real estate lawyer to make sure you understand your local laws and the right steps to take.

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