Landlord's Legal Kit For Dummies
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As the landlord, you may think that changing the terms of a rental contract is necessary. But, when can you do that? When you and your resident sign a rental contract, neither party can change the terms of the contract except in the following situations:

  • You and your resident have a month-to-month rental contract, and you’ve given the resident notice of the change as required by your state. (Most states require a minimum 30-day notice.)

  • The fixed-term contract has expired, and the resident is willing to renew it with the modified terms. In other words, you and resident agree to sign a new contract when the current one expires.

  • You and your resident mutually agree to the proposed change(s).

If your rental property is subject to rent regulation, be extra careful when raising the rent.

When you’re ready to change the rental contract, you can do so in any of the following ways:

  • Edit the existing contract. If the changes are minor, you can edit the contract by crossing out or adding language and then signing (or initially) and dating each change and having your resident sign (or initial) and date each change.

  • Attach an amendment or addendum to the existing agreement. An amendment is any change to the original contract. An addendum is an addition to the original contract. Make sure the edits or changes are typewritten or otherwise legible.

  • Create a new rental contract. If your resident is renewing the rental contract or your changes are substantial, consider creating an entirely new contract that you both sign and date. Write on the original contract “Canceled on” followed by the date, and then sign and have your resident sign to acknowledge the cancellation.

    You may also use a Mutual Termination of Lease or Rental Agreement form to document the cancellation. Make sure the cancellation date is the same as the date of the new contract. (Keep a copy of the original and new contracts.)

Don’t blindside your resident with changes to the rental contract. You should contact the resident to discuss the proposed changes and then follow up with a written notice. Deliver the written notice as required by state law. States typically require a minimum 30-day notice in writing delivered in person or by mail. Check with your attorney or local affiliate of the National Apartment Association to find out your local requirements.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Laurence C. Harmon, JD, is the CEO of HARMONLAW LLC, specializing in apartment-related legal and property management consulting.

Robert S. Griswold, MBA, MSBA, is a successful real estate investor and property manager with a large portfolio of residential and commercial rental properties.

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