1.Give your landlord a note about your intention to have a roommate. Yes, if you’re on good personal terms and have a friendly landlord you can speak to them directly. A note gives the landlord some time to think the decision over without pressure. Although many landlords will agree and cooperate with your desire to add a roommate, they may want to have your new roommate be a co-tenant. Having this roommate be a co-tenant means they will then have the same responsibilities and rights as you have. When you write this letter, be cordial, polite, and focused on your goal. Don’t ramble on and on. Get to the point and let them know basic facts about your potential roommate and possibly a reason why you want to add them. If you can think of any potential benefits this can bring the landlord, make sure to add that in the note! Landlords in general will be thinking about their best interests first. So if you can show that adding a roommate can add to your value as a tenant then make sure to show that and elaborate in your letter!
Possible reasons why adding a roommate can be beneficial to your landlord are:
a) Adding a second party may give a measure of security to your landlord since now two people are responsible for the monthly paycheck. In case one person falls on hard times, the other can now pick up the slack!
b) If you have someone living with you, this may give you more incentive to live longer at that current residence since now both of you will establish yourself at that location. Landlords love long leases!
c) If your new roommate is clean, that means two people will now be in charge of housekeeping, which will ensure an extra tidy and well-kept home!
2. Get approval from your landlord. By this step, you’ve already verified that your new roommate is more than acceptable in terms of their financial stability to handle their portion of the rent. They also have a compatible personality to yours. But just because you may be best of friends with this person doesn’t mean the landlord will accept them!
a) Make sure your new housemate will meet the good-tenant criteria set forth by your landlord. Most landlords have a very thorough screening process they run new tenants through. This can include credit checks, background checks, references, and rental history. If you know your new roommate’s credit is good, then get a copy of it and submit it to the landlord with the new tenant application. Being upfront with the credit history of your roommate can only help your chances of getting approved! Be sure to attach an explanation of any possible negatives on the credit report, like bankruptcies, evictions, or late credit card payments.
b)Make sure you’re not exceeding the occupancy limit your landlord may have set for you in the rental contract you signed when you started the lease. Even with this, there’s still a chance you can overcome this – but it may not be easy! This requires excellent rapport with the landlord, amazing qualifications by the potential tenant, and great luck in finding an landlord open to revising your contract.
3. Sign the new lease or month-to-month agreement. Although this step doesn’t happen every time you add a tenant, it is a strong possibility. Don’t take this step lightly because your landlord definitely won’t! Making sure the new tenant is added to your lease agreement is very important to the landlord and resident/property manager because it formalizes the arrival of your roommate and makes sure they are one hundred percent responsible for the steady payment of rent checks and that they are just as liable as you in case any damage should happen to the unit. This isn’t just a good thing for the landlord though! It’s also a beneficial step for you because this makes it crystal clear in formal legal writing that your homemate now has the same rights in the legal system under law and formal rental responsibilities that you have.
4. Be prepared for a rental increase. Now the bad part! Most landlords that agree to an additional co-tenant in your unit will want a bump in the rental rates. Their thinking is that since there’s another person in your apartment, townhouse, or rental house, there’s going to be a larger amount of wear and tear that’s going to take place on a daily basis. More wear and tear is not a good thing for a landlord! More wear and tear means more repair for a property manager when you end up vacating the premises when you end your lease and decide to move on to a different location. Since this will be a new legal lease, the landlord can now raise your rent immediately since this is basically going to be a new tenancy under law. Usually a landlord will give you a 30 day notice when you are in a month-to-month lease agreement that your rent will be raised or will wait until your lease ends if you have a long-term rental contract. If your unit is under rent control then you may be helped out by that. Otherwise, your landlord can legally raise your rents for as much as the current rental market will give.
5. Be prepared for conditions in the terms of your lease to change. Big one that’s probably going to change? Your security deposit. Keep in mind that many states limit the amount of security deposit a landlord and property owner can legally charge! If you live in Florida, then no luck, since there’s no statutory limit! However, usually you can expect the security deposit to be some multiple of the monthly rent. Since it’s a multiple of the monthly rent, if your monthly rent went up because of the new tenant, then your security deposit will probably go up also.