Can Rent be raised when adding Tenant to Lease in WI

10 Replies

We are in Wisconsin.  I have a tenant who allowed a friend to move in with out notifying us prior to the move.  Upon discovery we required that they complete and application and be added to the lease.  We also told them that the rent would increase by $50.  The current tenant if fighting the increase stating that she has a lease.  We had an attorney review and they see no rules in Wisconsin prohibiting an increasing rent considering we are issuing an addendum to the original lease with the increase.  Any insights on this would be appreciated as they have taken it to their attorney for review.

It sounds like you have a problem tenant on your hand. Either way, I would find a way to get rid of this tenant legally. If they involved an attorney you will have problems with these people down the line, even if you solve this issue.

depending on your lease, the original tenant may be harboring the other tenant and be violating, I may consider discussing with the tenant (assuming the lease specifies who can live there for how long) that they are in violation of the lease, and you can remidy 2 ways, volunatilly terminate the lease and resign a new one with the additional tenant, or you can go down the eviction route.  This is why having a great Property Manager is worth every penny, because its not your problem. 

@Pat Daniels , yes, you can and should raise the rent if additional people are living on the property. I suggest that you refer your tenant to her original lease. She has a lease and the legal right to live on the property. Her friend/roommate does NOT. Review your lease. Most have some clause regarding who (as a guest) is allowed to stay and for how long.

If the roommate wants to stay, they need to sign a lease addendum. I use a really really simple roommate addendum that requires signatures from the current tenant(s) and the additional tenant. The addendum states the new rent and that all parties agree to all provisions in the original lease.  Best of luck!

I did tell her that as I see it she has the option to have the new person move out and continue as with the original lease rate.  I did not offer a new lease but an addendum to add the new person to the lease with an increase in rent.  Maybe under the circumstances I should just go with a month to month lease to see how things work out.

Thanks Adam the lease is based on the Wisconsin Realtors which states the Following:

During the lease term, as a condition of Tenant's continuing right to use and occupy the Premises, Tenant agrees and promises, unless Landlord otherwise provides in writing, as follows:

10. To NOT permit any guest or invites to reside in the Premises without prior written consent of Landlord.

I think this is pretty clear that by allowing another person to move in they have breached the lease.

Just be sure you are doing an addendum.  That is required to be within the bounds of the law re: raising the rent.  Don't just take a pen to her original lease.

Thank you Corina! We are using and addendum and having the existing as well as the new tenant sign.  I also plan to review the full lease with the new tenant as well.  The existing tenant does not believe we have the right to raise the rent so she is supposedly having her attorney review.  Not sure how long I should give her for this before sending out a five day remedy letter.  Any thoughts?

5 day should be first then the lease is officially broken by tenants, then you can negotiate a new lease new rate including the second tenant if approved. Like Adam said she broke the lease.

In all my leases I have a clause that states that this lease supersedes any prior leases.  I have all tenants sign a new lease each year, so I can make changes as necessary.  

So, in this case I would simply have both them sign a new lease that way you avoid this problem.  If both parties agree to terminate an agreement and forge a new one I think that is less legally ambiguous.  It doesn't really help in this case, but is a thought for the future.

Thank you for all the helpful suggestions.  I finally was able to get them to sign an addendum to add the new tenant to the lease with the increase in rent.  It was painful to say the least.  Next time I will start with the five day letter and then go straight to a new lease.