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Can a Landlord Change the Lease After It Is Signed?

You and your new tenant just signed a lease agreement, but you realize you forgot to mention important terms. Can a landlord change the lease after it is signed?There are circumstances where a landlord can change a signed lease, but it often includes a tenant agreeing to the changes as well.This guide covers what you need to know about making legal lease changes. Keep reading for important details.

Can a Landlord Change the Lease After It Is Signed?

Can a landlord change the lease after it is signed? Once the landlord and tenant sign a lease, it becomes legally binding. Landlords can't change the existing lease without consent from the tenant.If you want to alter the lease, it can only happen if the original lease allows a party to change something without the other party. For instance, it's common for a lease contract to allow landlords to change pet policies at any time.Neither the landlord nor the tenant can change the lease without consent from the other party involving:
  • Leasing period
  • Rental payment
  • Associated rental fees
A lease amendment can help with these changes. This leasing component occurs if funding was underestimated or if charges exceeded the original estimate. Both parties have to develop this amendment and sign it before the changes become official.

Common Changes Landlords Try to Make

A landlord might want to change a lease agreement in the middle of the lease duration. This could be as a reaction to an issue with a tenant or because they want to solve a problem they didn't think about before signing a lease.Before the end of the lease period, you might want to make these changes:
  • Increasing late fees or changing the grace period
  • Increasing the rent during the rental period
  • Modifying the lost key and lock-out policies
  • Introducing additional fees for amenities
  • Prohibiting tenant behaviors that don't violate current lease terms
If you want to make any of these changes, you can talk to your tenant about signing a new agreement. A property management company can help you draft up a lease amendment.

When Can a Landlord Change a Lease Agreement?

It's not forbidden for a landlord to change a lease agreement without the risk of repercussions. However, the answer isn't black and white.Landlords can change a lease agreement in certain situations, such as upon lease renewals, when a new lease contract gets signed, and anytime through a lease addendum.

Lease Renewals

When a lease expires, you can offer your tenant a lease renewal. You can make alterations to the lease at this point. You don't have to use the same lease that is expiring.Make tenants aware of any changes you want to make when offering a lease renewal. Contact them ahead of time to update them before they sign the new agreement.Give tenants enough notice to decide if they want to move forward with the new lease terms.

New Lease Contract

Lease amendments can occur when a new contract is signed by both parties. Incoming tenants get a new lease with terms landlords want to provide.A tenant can decide if the updated terms are right for them before they move in.

Lease Addendum

Lease addendums are amendments to the lease agreement and can be put in place at any time. If both the tenant and landlord agree to the terms, they will sign the addendum and add it to the original lease contract.An addendum either updates or adds new terms to the lease. Both sides have to agree to the terms before they go into motion.Tenants might prefer lease addendums because they have more negotiating power on lease changes. An addendum can be implemented on nearly any term covered in the lease.If both parties can't agree on updated or new terms, the changes cannot be legally implemented.

Lease Amendment vs. Lease Addendum

We've discussed both lease amendments and lease addendums, but it's important to understand their differences. Both modify a lease, but they have different purposes.A lease amendment modifies rules addressed in the existing lease that are no longer relevant.An example of this is when a tenant decides they want a contract with an independent internet provider when this service was originally included in the rental price. An amendment will modify the terms regarding these payments.In contrast, a lease addendum adds terms that weren't included in the original lease. For example, if a tenant decides to get a pet in the middle of their lease, pet deposits and pet rent can be added to the contract with an addendum.

Lease Agreement "Hidden Changes"

Some landlords formulate lease agreements to allow them to change the rules during a tenancy without the need for both parties to agree. While this might seem like a good idea for landlords, it's not ideal for two reasons.First, using vague language in a lease could cause legal trouble down the road. Second, tenants aren't going to want to renew with a landlord who creates a lease with "hidden changes."Landlords should strive to keep tenants for as long as possible to avoid tenant turnover costs, such as hiring tenant screening services.However, a landlord can reserve the right to change the rental fee if the clause doesn't specify a specific amount. A landlord also has the right to modify the tenant's right to access parts of the rental property.Since a lease agreement is legally binding, a tenant implicitly agrees to changes if a landlord chooses to exercise their right to modification. Again, it's best to avoid "hidden changes" altogether because there might be legal implications.

How Can Rental Property Management Help?

Can a landlord change the lease after it is signed? The only way a landlord can legally change a signed lease is if a tenant also agrees to the changes in writing.When you hire Axford Real Estate & Property Management, we can help with lease creation and lease enforcement. If you need to change a lease, we will make sure you go through the legal avenues to do so.With our decades of experience in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, we are equipped to work for landlords like you. Get in touch with us today to get started.