As a general rule, you may be bound by a written contract with the landlord when renting or leasing accommodation. Certain clauses in the contract may need modification later, and the process for doing so is separate for a lease or a rental contract.
Differentiating Lease and Rental Contracts
It is common for individuals to describe an occupancy contract as a ‘lease’ or a ‘rental contract’ as though they indicated the same concept. But in reality, they are not the same, for a different set of rules need to be followed for each of the two forms of contract. Therefore, it is crucial to decide which kind of lease you are engaged with your landlord.
- Lease: Leases are general arrangements that cover at least a year. It is not achieved automatically, and both parties have to consent to any extensions.
- Rental Contract: Renting arrangements typically end after just a month. While leases do not renew automatically, rental contracts are self-renewing. Contracts that follow this pattern are treated as month-to-month deals.
Another important distinction is, the short duration of rental contracts enables owners and renters more leverage since they can be terminated at any moment, with appropriate prior notice, of course. On the contrary, leases make both parties obliged by its clauses for the entire period it covers.
Be vigilant of rent regulation.
When you reside in a state or city with rent regulation, the laws that govern your discrete rental contract or lease may vary. Rent regulation and tenancy security regulations also limit homeowners’ power to make adjustments to contracts and leasing arrangements. You can contact your state or area’s rent regulation committee to ascertain the rules that your contract is obliged to abide by.
The Steps to Modifying Your Contract
Owners and renters can make adjustments to the lease or rental contract at any point in the period. The renter may not agree to certain amendments, in which case the viability of the homeowner being able to pass it forward would depend on the contract being a rental or lease. The period during which the change is proposed is also essential. However, no amendment by the renter shall be accepted unless the former approves of it in writing.
Amending a Rental Contract
Rental arrangements may be modified unilaterally by owners. This, however, must be accompanied by prior notice to the renters. A variety of state laws regulate how much information must be provided to tenants, but one month is the conventional duration for month-to-month contracts.
To illustrate this, consider an owner who tries to increase his rate by $50 after the first month of a month-to-month contract. Aside from certain rent regulation laws and failure to provide adequate notice, virtually nothing prohibits the owner from carrying on with his intentions. This leaves the renter with the option to either continue renting the place at the new rate or move out once the contract ends. The precise date of moving out would vary according to the rental contract and city laws.
A renter may request amendments, but they cannot compel the owner to approve them. If the latter does not accept it, the renter may opt to rent under the same conditions or move out. If they go for the second option, they ought to review relevant state and municipal legislation and the rental contract. This will enable them to provide any necessary prior notice.
Switching a Contract
When a lease is in place, both entities must consent to and sign off on the contract amendments. This ensures that your landlord will not be authorized to increase your rent mid-term unless you have an express clause stating otherwise to this aspect of your lease agreement. When you and your landlord consent to a certain modification, be sure to submit it in writing by all of you. Else, if your landlord does not agree to make a particular change suggested by you, you can either carry on staying on the same conditions or move out and terminate your deal. However, doing so could entail certain repercussions in the form of civil proceedings from your landlord.
After the period for which your contract holds ends, your landlord can alter it at his will, be it by increasing the rent charge or prohibiting any pets’ keeping for the next lease period. In this case, you can either agree to the revised conditions and have the contract extended, or find new accommodation to stay.
What sort of adjustments is acceptable?
The modifications ought to conform with local, national, and federal legislation. Landlord-renter statutes forbid certain clauses in contracts that act to restrict the legal privileges of renters. For instance, they cannot compel you to bear any maintenance or repair costs that were not your misdoing. They can also increase the rent charged to a specific amount as indicated by rent regulation laws.
Often, renters may wish to alter contracts to enable them to keep pets. When you intend to get a dog, but doing so would contravene the deal, you need to have it amended. The landlord may agree to make this change, provided that you set aside a reserve for pet damages.
Alongside this, another usual adjustment you could encounter is putting in a roommate. Your contract must refer to the list of individuals’ names entitled to reside in the house. If you wish to move out with another mate, you would have to consult the homeowner to change the rental agreement.
There are certain issues with lease agreements in some states where the owner will unilaterally alter the lease agreements. They may switch the address where you have to submit your rent charges. Although the landlord reserves the right to impose the guidelines that they feel are appropriate, it is up to a judge if the changes are deemed unfair.
The Steps to Approaching Your Landlord to Have Your Rental Contract Modified
Altering a lease or rental contract is a modification to a legal, imperative document. Hence, it must be taken seriously. When approaching your owner, be sure to ponder over the following prerequisites first:
Does this change conform to the legislation laid by the statute? Needless to say, if it does not, don’t proceed.
Will the alteration be impacting the owner positively? Think about it from his perspective. Will it affect their profits or objectives? Provided it does, would it be possible for you to try and compromise? There may be little incentive for him to agree to your new terms otherwise. For instance, consider a situation where you’d like to keep a pet despite a no-pets condition. In trying to compromise, would you be able to remit a greater monthly fee or set aside a pet reserve?
However, should assenting to the move have a beneficial or even inoffensive impact on the owner, bringing this up when confabulating would be wise.
Is it vital for you to bring up the change in order to continue with your tenancy? We get it; life is unpredictable. You may have faced an unforeseen occurrence, like a deduct in your pay or other personal predicaments. Under these new changes, it may not be possible for you to continue with your tenancy under the same conditions, whereby bringing up a proposal to your homeowner may be inevitable. Refer below for guidance on the optimal ways of discussing this with your homeowner.
As can be expected, if you have a negative response to any of the three points mentioned above, you ought to decline the prospect of pursuing the dilemma. However, if you consider your proposal to be imperative, it would be a good idea to think about the points listed below:
Take your time to arrange your thoughts regarding the prospective forthcoming transition. For elementary proposals, you may not require much time for planning; for instance, a proposal to incorporate an open parking spot into your contract may entail merely deciding how much you are prepared to pay for which parking spot and when you’d like to start renting it. Else, for more complicated suggestions, such as converting your month-to-month arrangement to a lease, you ought to include more supporting material.
You may not need any prior planning or strategy when putting forward motions, but if you answered negatively in any way to the second question above, it would be advisable to plan ahead to counterbalance any concerns your homeowner may bring up, thereby persuading him to accept it.
Send it in writing. Make it a point to include all relevant information into it to strengthen your case. Begin your writing with the date, and end by indicating a gentle deadline for a reply. Examples to do so include ‘I look forward to hearing from you by next week’ or ‘I know you have a busy schedule, so I will contact you if I don’t hear from you soon.’
Make it a point to review your contract and follow any procedures that may be written about proposing a change. This will help you decide whether to mail or email your homeowner. Additionally, depending on your dynamic, you can also contact him to suggest the amendment and apprise to expect a written application soon.
You could make it more convenient for your homeowner by preparing a new contract yourself. Draft an update to the current tenancy agreement, and then give it to the owner to be checked and approved. You may look up Nolo.com to find various landlord-tenant forms on the internet that may assist you in your application. Naturally, your homeowner will recognize your efforts in taking charge of some of the documents, and this will reflect well on you. Hence, you are more likely to have your proposal approved.
Be prepared. Don’t do anything that may lead your homeowner to have second thoughts. You should start acting on your proposal as soon as he approves it. For instance, if your amendment motioned to include a pet in the lease, submit the funds promptly to the reserve. Similarly, if the amendment signaled to convert the short-period rental into a lease, be sure to sign off on the new documents immediately, without procrastinating over determining the starting date.
How to Deal with Disagreements
Should your homeowner add modifications to your contract or leasing arrangement that does not conform to the state legislation, or without providing adequate acknowledgment opportunities, you ought to notify them of the fines levied by statute for such infractions. It is usual for individuals to make honest errors and will rectify them immediately.
Else, if your homeowner opposes your advances, but you still consider the modifications to be illegal, be sure to take the case to a local renters’-rights committee or an attorney practicing in this field.