VOLUME 1ROne Tenant Too ManyShould Tenants Tell Their Landlord a New Roommate Has Moved In?By Nikki DavidsonLife and love have a funny way of throwing curveballs. Landlords know this all too well, especially after the i’s are dotted and t’s are crossed in a rental contract.

A study by Stanford University (via Quartz) found that 25% of American couples move in together after four months of dating, and 50% live together within a year. Sometimes these significant relationship milestones occur mid-lease.

Additionally, research from the nonprofit Generations United revealed the number of Americans living in triple-generation households has exploded to 271% higher than 10 years ago. Although numbers had been slowly creeping up over the past decade, the pandemic and economic factors significantly prompted families to move back in with each other between 2020 to 2021.

And with the National Association of REALTORS confirming that buying a home is 55% more expensive than it was in 2021, saving up may be easier by renting with a roommate. But do landlords need to know if someone not on the lease moves into a rental home?

Secret Roommates Could Break Housing Occupancy RulesThe first thing renters need to check is that they can legally increase the number of people who live with them. Federal, state and city governments can limit how many people live in a dwelling.

The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development stipulates that there should only be two people per bedroom living in a unit. Local laws can supersede those rules. In Texas, the number of adults who can live in a dwelling is three people per bedroom.

There are some exceptions to these rules to protect families from discrimination through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Fair Housing Act. For example, someone with a disability may need added assistance or accommodations in order to enjoy their housing.

Do Tenants Have To Notify Landlords About a New Roommate?A rental lease typically includes a clause that forbids new roommates or subletters. Some contracts even spell out how many nights a guest can stay overnight. Tenants who break these agreements violate the lease, which is a breach of contract. If the landlord can prove that an unauthorized person is living in the rental, it could be grounds for eviction and everybody could get kicked out.

How Can Tenants Add a Roommate in the Middle of a Lease?Tenants should approach their landlords with clear and professional written requests. Good renters could use this opportunity to remind their landlord that they always pay on time and even offer to sign a longer lease to sweeten the deal. There is a fair chance that the landlord will request a background check, references and financial information from the new roommate. If the request is approved, all residents will sign a new lease.

Can Landlords Raise the Rent?The original lease is void as soon as a new tenant moves in. While landlords can’t raise the rent in the middle of an active lease, they can demand more money to draft a new one.

Texas and Florida don’t have any laws to prevent landlords from raising rent between leases, so a spike in the price is perfectly legal. A proprietor may argue higher rent is warranted because an extra resident means a greater likelihood of wear and tear on the property. Landlords may also ask for a larger security deposit to cover potential damages.

Neglecting To Add a Roommate to a Lease Is RiskyA person living in a rental that’s not on the lease can’t be held responsible for damages or missed rent payments. Suppose they’ve lived in the rental long enough to establish residency. In that case, it could be legally challenging to get that nightmare roommate off the property. It could even require a lengthy legal eviction process.

Tenants should think long and hard about not just having a roommate to save money but having the right roommate. They may want to take notes from the landlord’s vetting process to make sure the tenant will be reliable, too, including a new romantic partner.

Getting a new lease drawn up for an additional roommate is extra work for the tenant and the landlord. Following proper protocol is well worth the peace of mind to stay on the good side of a landlord and the law.