New Lease vs Sublet

4 Replies

I had a tenant move in and after four months want to move out. However she offered her brother as a tenant to move in and take over payments. The problem is that the brother was unemployed. I said we could do this if she stayed on the lease as a tenant and that we added him as a tenant also. We agreed, I let her out of the old lease and executed a new, signed lease agreement which listed both brother and sister as tenants.

The brother has since contacted me and said that he wants new paperwork showing him as the only one living there, and adds that he understands that he is subletting from his sister. My position is that we have a new lease contract that clearly states that both are tenants. I have explained that we do not lease to unemployed tenants, and that having her on the lease and jointly liable for rent was important. He is now looking for work.

I want good relations with the tenant, and things could work out, but I do not want problems in the case of nonpayment. Does he have a leg to stand on in regard to 'subletting'? My understanding was that we had executed a new, legally valid lease, that this supersedes previous arrangements, and that it is clear that both are tenants with the right to live there and with a shared obligation to pay rent. Clearly the last thing I want is to have an unemployed tenant with no income being the sole party responsible for making payments.

This is in Ontario and landlord tenant laws are hopelessly skewed to tenants here.

Would really like to hear what a dispassionate BP reader thinks about this. I think its pretty clear, there is a new signed lease and the two of them are both tenants. But landlord tenant law can be pretty crazy and there are oddities.

You have a valid lease with both of them on it. I would tell him that you are sorry, but you can't take her off of the lease. He is not subletting and I wouldn't allow it. Sounds like the new lease you wrote up is fine.

I doubt that she will pay his rent if he doesn't pay it. So, if you end up evicting due to non-payment, be sure to name both of them in the eviction paperwork, even if you are sure she isn't living there. You don't want her having any rights to the place after he is out.

@Stephen E.  

I would tell him No! While I have no idea how Canadian law works. I can tell you that tenants push and push. The job of the landlord is to say no with the rights of the law.

Thanks for the advice. This is pretty much what I thought, there is a new lease and both parties agreed. There is a lesson here, whenever I have inherited tenants or got them under special circumstances there has been trouble. Much better to select and screen your own tenants and stick to your leasing criteria. Normally I would not have taken a tenant with these characteristics, especially unemployed, but his sister the original tenant offered to stay on the lease. Now as soon as he is in he wants her off the lease. I say no way.