Removing one of two tenants from a lease

6 Replies

Hi all, 

My tenants were a couple when they signed the lease. Now they are not. The bf is planning on staying, and would like the gf off the lease. I have no problem with this (although they have not been the greatest tenants). What, specifically, should I do? Re-create the lease and have him sign the new one? Are there any legal issues with removing someone from a lease, or drafting a whole new lease before the end of the previous lease? I assume the gf will want to be off the lease, but can I just go ahead and do that? I just don't want anything to come back and bite me just because I don't have the experience yet. 

He also wants to change the locks because she did not return the key. I have no problem with that either, but is there any legal reasons why I should do this instead of just telling him to do it and give me a copy of the key?

Thanks!

Jason

A lot would depend on the income/credit of the remaining tenant.  Could he carry the rent and expenses alone?  What is the benefit to you, the owner, if you agree to remove a tenant from the lease?  If the ex did not return a key, she still is technically in possession of the rental, albeit she abandoned it.  If you do allow the tenant to change the lock, be sure to test the key he gives you!  Good luck.

Marc Winter, Real Estate Agent
I change locks who knows what a tenant will use to do it. Charge him for it. When you say they havent been great tenants do you mean they havent paid on time ? or something else? If something else will that resolve with the girlfriend gone? Late payment issues obviously wont resolve with less income. You might just leave the name on the lease until it expires.

They have only been there since October and have only paid by the due date once. There was also neighbor complaints (this is a condo) about their dog barking (and maybe yelling?) which has been resolved, and then there was an issue with dog waste which has also been resolved. I believe he was carrying the weight of the rent anyway, she is a waitress. He wants to remain on the lease. 

This is my first rental property, I'm hoping future tenants aren't this frustrating. They screened well. 

If you think the one tenant can carry the rent and be less of a pain, you’ll need to get a lease addendum written and signed.

Basically write it that Betty is being removed from the lease as of xxx date and Joe is taking over all responsibilities of the signed lease dated xxx. Security deposit remains $xx and will be returned to Joe upon lease termination based on repairs, etc in the original lease.

Both need to sign. She needs to return her key, or assess a $50 fee to re-key the locks.

Everyone should be happy with that. And remind him that rent is due on the 1st and fees will be assessed for late payments. Maybe without the personal drama, he’ll be a better tenant. Maybe. :)

There's no advantage to you to remove the gf from the lease but if you and both tenants are okay with removing her from the lease, then all you have to do is write up a new lease without her on it.  You can't do it unless the gf agrees to it though since she still has a legal right to be there.  That doesn't change just because they're no longer a couple.

Before you decide whether or not to do it, you should evaluate whether the bf qualifies on his own.  Because if he doesn't, and since it sounds like they already had issues paying on time, then all you really accomplish by removing the gf from the lease is leaving yourself with one less person to hold responsible if the rent isn't paid.  I understand he may have been "carrying the weight of the rent", but you should ask yourself how is rent now going to be paid on time with one less income earner in the household.

Lastly, if you do end up changing the locks, make sure that is paid for by the tenant and that you get a copy of the new key.

Thanks everyone, the information provided is very helpful. Good point on having one less person responsible for payment. I'll see if they both really want to have her removed and I'll try to keep her on the lease. I told him he can replace the locks and just give me a key. I think the dog was hers, that was a big source of the problem. 

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