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Can Landlords Make Mid-Lease Changes?

By Jarrod Heil

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Nobody wants to be on the other end of a disgruntled landlord, who isn’t happy with something his or her tenants are doing and wants to make a change.

Those situations aren’t fun for either party, landlord or tenants.

But before a landlord enacts any changes mid-lease, including the dreadful lease-breaking practice that nobody in their right mind wants to be part of, do they actually have the right under U.S. law to make those changes and force their tenants to adhere?

The short answer is a hard no. However, the long and short of it gets a little more complicated.

If you’re not up to speed on landlord laws, you may be stuck with your tail between your legs after having presented a mid-lease agreement tenants aren’t legally obliged to sign.

That’s where Clovered comes into play. We’ve got your back on this one. We broke down the most commonly asked landlord leasing questions on the internet.

But before we jump into the hard-hitting questions, we must let you know that landlords cannot make any material term changes to a lease without drafting an addendum that is agreed upon and then signed by each of the tenants.

What Is an Addendum to a Lease?

An addendum is a compilation of written changes that can be added to a lease mid-term by a landlord. Tenants do not have to agree to any addendum and, therefore, do not have to legally sign any addendum proposed by the landlord.

Any change that affects a tenant’s wallet or how they live is considered a material term, which cannot be changed by a landlord without an addendum to the lease that all parties agree upon and sign.

Can a Landlord Break a Lease Early Without Cause?

No, landlords can’t break a lease early without cause if they do not have written consent from each of the tenants who are on the lease. Once a tenant signs that lease, it is a legally binding contract that all parties must uphold until the lease term ends.

However, if a landlord proposes to terminate the lease and all tenants on the lease agreement are in favor, they can then legally break the lease with written consent from all tenants.

It works the opposite way, too. If all the tenants want to break a lease and the landlord agrees to it, a lease can be broken early. Landlords have the upper hand and may be able to keep the deposit and last month’s rent for security measures.

While we hope you’re never in a situation where anyone is trying to break a lease, the topic comes up more than it probably should. It’s important to know your rights and stick to the legally bound contract.

Can a Landlord Raise Rent During a Lease?

Nope, a landlord cannot legally raise the rent during a lease without the tenants agreeing on it. They can draft an addendum for the tenants to sign but, again, the tenants do not have to sign it if they don’t want to.

If all parties can’t agree on raising the rent mid-lease, a landlord must draft a new lease agreement that will go into effect after the current lease concludes.

This also goes for utilities, too. If a lease states that all utilities are included within the monthly rent, a landlord must uphold that agreement. They cannot, mid-lease, make tenants start paying for utilities.

Can a Landlord Change the Lease After It Is Signed?

It really depends on the change. If the landlord wants to extend rent due dates and lower the late fees, they could technically do that without the tenants arguing.

However, landlords can’t make changes to a lease that affect the amount of money tenants pay each month or how they live. Again, all these changes would have to come in the form of a written addendum that is added to the lease.

Some of the most common lease changes that require addendums are raising the rent before the lease term is up, charging tenants extra for amenities that used to be free and enacting new tenant rules that don’t violate the original lease.

Can a Landlord Change Pet Policy?

It depends on the pet policy. If landlords have a no-pet policy in place and a tenant wants to add a pet to the house, they can do so without adding an addendum to the lease.

However, for the tenant’s sake, landlords want to make sure there is an addendum drafted in case the they change their mind.

It’s also important to know and understand service and emotional support animal housing laws if either of those two animals apply to a tenant’s situation.

Can Landlord Keep Security Deposit for Breaking Lease?

Although this doesn’t technically fall within the category of a landlord making changes mid-lease, we wanted to address this commonly asked question so you know your rights.

A landlord has the legal right to keep a security deposit if the lease is broken by a tenant. They can do so to compensate themselves for the potential loss in rental income due to the unexpected occupancy of their rental property.

Just like it’s not fair, or legal, for landlords to break the lease early on tenants, it’s especially not fair to break a lease mid-term on a landlord. Monthly rental money is likely used as extra income and to pay the mortgage on the rental property.

If a landlord has made mid-lease changes to a rental agreement that a tenant doesn’t agree with, both parties may want to contact an attorney to see what they can do.

In addition, remember that neither party has to sign an addendum to the lease that they don’t agree with.

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