How to Change a Lease Mid-term

6 Replies

Two months into a lease, the couple renting the home is separated and have starting the process to get a divorce. One of the tenants want me to reissue a lease without the other person. Both individuals have good paying jobs and have been dependable dependable and clean tenants. What is your experience with changing a lease? What do laws do I need to be mindful of? 

John,

Both parties have to be in agreement and should sign a legal well drafted document releasing the other, stipulating terms of the security deposit reimbursement. Its a process that happens every day but you'll need to be careful to avoid future liability to you with regard to the deposit and future rents.

@John Suralik

I usually recommend not taking a tenant off a lease unless there is someone replacing them and it is requested and in the best interest of all parties (staying tenant, leaving tenant, new tenant and landlord).

No real benefit to you to taking them off the lease. But you may want to go after the departing tenant at some point in the future if the current tenant does not pay. If you take them off the lease it will be that much harder to do that. Assuming your rental agreement / state laws specify they are jointly and severally liable it is to your benefit to have the 2nd person on the rental agreement, whether or not they are still living there.

Please note I am not an attorney, nor is this legal advice.

@Angie Jordan Thank you for the post. I told the tenant that I would have to get back to them, then posted it on BP to get some direction. I can tell it's an emotionally charged situation for them and they want me to act as the divorce lawyer and "grant" them the lease, which is obviously illegal. 

@Sarnen Steinbarth  I've been told that there will be a restraining order on one of the tenants because he/she wouldn't leave. I did find where all parties need to be consensual, but this is new territory for me. I would be eternally grateful for information on state laws. 

@John Suralik

You would need to execute an Amendment to the Lease which removed one of the original signatories.  Both parties would have to sign the amendment.

Before you do this, ensure that the remaining tenant is capable of carrying the lease on their own.  

When it comes to security deposits, we do not refund any portion to the departing tenant and have them transfer any claim they may have to the deposit to the remaining tenant (here there is a specific government form for this very action).as part of the amendment.

This is common place and at your discretion. In such situations you can use a "release of roommate" form. This allows one party to vacate and the other to qualify and remain. It would have to be mutually agreed upon as to the sec deposit remaining with the rental. The pair would need to agree on reimbursing the other for their portion of the paid deposit. Considering this is a highly emotional situation, I'd merely present the options and refrain from giving legal advice or an opinion. Leave the decision to the pair and advise as to their mutual responsibility to continue with the lease terms as specified. 

Feel free to contact me directly.