Dear PoPville – lease amendments?

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Dear PoPville,

I am moving in with my boyfriend, and when I notified my current building management company, they told me that it’s fine if I move out, but that my roommate has to move out as well. We are on a month-to-month lease, and last year, I was able to add my roommate to the lease without a problem. Now, the company is telling me that they can’t add another person to the current lease, and that she cannot even begin a new lease with a different person. Is this allowed? If she is on the lease,does she HAVE to vacate the apartment? I really don’t want to force her to move!

19 Comment

  • How has rent been paid? Is she giving the rent to you and then you writing the check? What do you mean when you say “she is on the lease” did she sign a lease? What you really need to determine is whether she is a co-tenant or a sub-tenant. If she is a sub-tenant, under DC law, you are required to have her move out or you are liable to landlord for her as a hold-over tenant and I think also liable for triple damages.

  • dcRat, thanks! She is a co-tenant. I was originally on a lease with my old roommate, who moved out. My new roommate signed a month-to-month lease with me when she moved in, so she is “on the lease”.

    • MSD- you said “my new roommate signed a month-to-month lease with me” does that mean you made a lease for her, or she signed the apartment lease. If you created a second lease for her, then she is a sub-tenant.

    • I agree with what Logic said. What you need is privity of contract between your roommate and your landlord. If she is on the lease and pays the rent, they cannot evict her. If you are leaving the end of March, have her pay the rent and if they accept it, you have probably established a tenancy.

  • I think it’s probably allowed. Sounds like they want to use this opportunity to jack up the rent. Her only option would be to keep the lease and pretend you still live there, but that would be a horrible idea for you.

    • Exactly, they win by being able to create a new rent rate for the unit… Its fair to them though seeing as you want to break your lease. You can’t genuinely re-negotiate your original lease without a sacrifice, otherwise they’re out of money that you committed to paying.

  • Kalorini

    I had a similar situation with Borger Management:

    Roommate #1 and I signed a lease. Roommate #1 moved out to move in with his girlfriend. I went out and found Roommate #2, and amended to lease to add Roommate #2 on the lease.

    Boyfriend and I want to move in together. Roommate #2 asks if he wants to move in with us (lower rent, etc). I ask Borger Management if we can amend the lease again to add a third person (Roommate #3) to the lease.

    Originally, their rule is: 2 lease amendments allowed. After that we’d have to sign a new lease (with the current market higher rental rate). However, they allowed us to perform a new lease amendment under some special circumstance (I think I gave the building manager a hard time about some stuff, so she was throwing me a bone).

    So, all in all, they’d want your roommate to resign the lease with a new roommate at a higher rental rate.

  • In DC you usually can’t evict someone unless they’ve stopped paying rent, broken the lease in some way, or the landlord is converting the unit to personal use, conducting major rehab, etc.

    This is a little different, though. My first thought was that it’s a little aggressive, but probably OK — after all, they’re under no obligation to let you off the hook for remaining lease payments. However, I see that you’re month-to-month, so there aren’t any remaining obligatory lease payments. You’re free to leave any time you want. In order to protect your roommate you probably should make clear in any further communication that she’s staying. Just be careful, as dcRat pointed out. You don’t want her to be a holdover tenant.

    If she truly is a co-tenant, I’m thinking that they can’t force your roommate out as long as she can pay the rent herself. If she can’t then she might be stuck. They don’t have to allow her to sublet or have a new roommate.

  • Agree with anonymous, sounds like they want a new tenant in there so they can up the rent more than they would be allowed with the current remaining tenant (your roommate) under DC rent control laws. Since you and your roommate are now month-to-month, they are under no obligation to keep renting to one or both of you if one moves out, and you likewise are under no obligation to stay in the apartment aside from 30 days notice. If your friend really does want to stay in that apartment, I would have her talk to the real estate management company and ask if they would let her stay in with a new roommate if they agreed to pay whatever a new tenant would pay on a new year lease.

  • ugh. I am going through something similar with my management company right now. My gf moved out a year ago, I amended my lease with two different roommates over the past year, then no, gf is back, but she’s now my exgf and was not yet back on the lease, and I’m trying to move to another unit in the building… It has been a nightmare, for seemingly arbitrary reasons, and we’ve had to sign and send around a lot of letters. It sucks, but I think I see light at the end of the tunnel that I’ll hopefully reach in 48 hrs… after over two weeks of digging.

    (Sorry, I know this is unhelpful, but I can emphasize with ridiculous rent/leasing and roommate “requirements.”)

  • In my last apartment I had to sign a new lease if I was replacing a roommate (it’s nice that they allowed you to add someone onto a month-to-month lease). What does it say in your lease? If there’s nothing in your lease that says they have to renew the lease with replacement roommates, I think the company can do whatever they want (although of course if your current roommate wants to find a new roomie and stay and sign a new lease at a higher rate, it makes sense for the management company to allow her to stay).

  • It’s possible that your roommate doesn’t qualify, on their own, to rent any of the units in the building. The management company probably has a minimum household income requirement.

  • Ask the DC Office of the Tenant Advocate. They’re on the Google.

  • The reason for this is you are the only person left from the original lease with the management company. You can add or remove as many “co-tenants” as you want as long as you remain on the lease. However once both of the original tenants leave the management has ever right to change the terms of the lease. Your roommate should have the right to stay but with a new lease (probably at a higher rent). I believe the reason for this is it is one of the few protections for management companies against DC rent control laws.

    • Right, otherwise you could pass the apartment on from person to person, without any rent increases, except those allowable under rent control. Roomies 1 and 2 pass the lease agreement on to roomies 2 and 3, who in turn pass the lease on to roomies 3 and 4, etc. In 15 years, the apartment would be renting for half the market rate to people who have nothing to do with roomie 1 and 2.

  • If she is on a lease written by and signed by the mgmt company, then they cannot throw her out. Period. As long as she pays the full rent, she is fine.

    • And by full rent, I mean whatever numbers is on the lease she signed with the mgmt company. She is not bound by anything you signed.

  • It appears she should fall under:
    “No matter what type of lease you have—written or
    oral, month to month or annual—your landlord
    cannot evict you without a legally valid reason. (See
    the section on Evictions for details on the eviction
    process.) In fact, after a lease expires you can
    continue to stay in your apartment as long as you
    continue to pay rent. The terms of your expired lease
    continue to be in effect with the exception that your
    rent may increase after a valid 30 day notice. To
    increase your rent, your landlord must file a notice
    with the RACD. Any increase must meet certain legal


  • Was your roommate added to the lease as an actual leaseholder? In other words, did you roommate have to go through a credit check? It’s different if your lease has the roommate as a named leaseholder rather than just as a tenant/roommate. I would say that if did not undergo a credit check, etc., when she was added to the lease, she has no real rights under the lease once you move out.

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