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If you are wondering whether the terms of a lease can be changed with civil litigation, the answer is it depends. The terms of a lease can be changed using an amendment. Whether or not a lease amendment is allowed depends on a few factors discussed in depth below. A landlord or tenant can easily amend a lease agreement as long as both parties agree to the amendment. An amendment to a lease agreement allows the parties to change one part of the agreement without entering into a new one. This article will help you explain exactly how to amend the lease.  For more general information on lease agreements read our article, Recent Changes to Landlord Tenant law 2022

The paperwork for a lease agreement that needs to be signed

What Is an Amendment to a Lease?

Simply put, an amendment is a change to a contract. A lease agreement is a contract between a tenant and the landlord. An amendment changes one or more of the terms of that contract. This can include things like amending the lease to remove one tenant.    

Can I Amend the Lease?

To know if you can have a valid lease amendment, review the terms of your lease carefully. Some leases expressly prohibit any amendments not already included in the lease at the time of execution. In this situation, the lease cannot be amended. Larger companies that lease apartments will sometimes not allow any amendments to their lease agreements.    

However, even in this case, an excellent place to start is to ask the landlord. Sometimes landlords may agree to amend a lease despite the terms, and you will not know until you ask.    

When Can You Not Amend a Lease?

In some states, a landlord cannot change the rent amount owed during the lease’s terms. So if a lease runs from January 1 until December 31, the landlord cannot come to the tenant on September 1 and ask the tenant to sign off on a rent increase. This would violate landlord-tenant law.  

Similarly, not all leases can be amended to remove one tenant from the lease. This is true, especially when the remaining tenant does not meet the sufficient income requirement to lease the apartment on their own.    

If you have questions on whether or not a lease amendment complies with the law, please reach out to a real estate lawyer near you.    

How To Write An Amendment To A Lease

If both the landlord and tenant agree to change one or more terms of the lease, that agreement should be entered in writing. The best way to do this is to write a separate document that lays out what parts of the lease are being changed. You’re going to want to make sure the document clearly identifies the following:  

  • A title that shows clearly the document is an amendment  
  • The original lease is amended.    
  • The terms of that lease that are changing  
  • What the new terms will be  
  • When the amendment becomes effective  

It is advisable to include in the amendment that all other lease terms remain unchanged.    

Once the amendment is written, both parties should sign and get copies. The amendment should then be attached to the original lease.  

This method is preferable to writing directly on the lease as not all states will accept this type of amendment as legally binding.    

Sample Lease Amendment  

A lease amendment can take any form. The following is an example of what an amendment to a lease can look like. This example extends the length of the lease.    

Amendment To Rental Agreement

The following amendment is entered into by landlord Tom Smith and tenant Jerry Jones, parties to the rental agreement (the “Agreement”) dated January 1, 2000, for the lease of the property located at 123 Main Street, Anytown, USA.    

The agreement is amended as follows:  

The lease is extended from December 31, 2021, to December 32, 2022.  

  1. All other terms of the agreement remain unchanged.  
  1. This amendment is effective when signed by both parties.  

Signed and Dated:  

 

Tom Smith 01/01/2021 Jerry Jones 01/01/2021  

Amending a lease is not always possible. Sometimes a new agreement may be necessary. Reach out to an experienced landlord & tenant attorney to help you navigate the ins and outs of lease amendments.  

Posted 
September 12, 2022
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