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HOW DO YOU CHANGE A LEASE AGREEMENT? KIRKLAND PROPERTY MANAGEMENT TIPS

Lease Agreement

Written by SJA Property Management

SJA offers premier Seattle property management services and serves as the local real estate industry’s most experienced resource for rental property owners.

A lease agreement is a contract between two parties, namely you the property owner and your tenants.

Depending on whether you have a concierge, landlord or Kirkland property management company in addition to yourself handling property affairs, you may or may not be in charge of actually creating these contracts. However, the need to change a lease agreement frequently comes up, and you may want to make amendments, small or large.  

The following includes a list of ways that you can change the lease agreement, for both tenants and property owners or managers.  

For Tenants 

Changing the lease contract is more difficult for tenants because you only have one option. That option is submitting a request to your landlord and asking for the changes directly. If both of you agree, you can write a new contract and sign it, or create an amendment or addendum to your current contract.  

If the landlord says know, you can choose to leave or you can choose to live with their decision.  

For Landlords 

There are several ways that you as a landlord or property manager can change your contract.  

Month to Month Contracts – Month to Month contracts are incredibly easy to change because all you have to do is submit a 30-day notice. While most month to month contracts limit changes for the first six to 12 months, most do not need to change the contract during this period, unless they have made a mistake. If you’ve made a mistake with your leasing agreement, then you may want to see a real estate lawyer. Importantly, the tenant can refute your changes, but you get the final say.  

Written Contractual Agreements – Most landlords and real estate attorneys insert small clauses into leasing agreements allowing you to make either changes to the rent or other small details without actually changing the contract.  

Examples include:  

  • Landlord reserves the right to increase the rental rate by 2.5% per year. 
  • Landlord reserves the right to increase the rental rate by $50 after 6 months  
  • Landlord reserves the right to make insubstantial changes after 6 months  

Importantly, if you do not specify the amount of a rent raise or a time period, then the tenant can attempt to fight it in court. By specifying how much you want to raise the rent and after what date, they will be bound  by it. Therefore, forethought is the best way to change a contract.  


Renegotiation  

If your tenant has been in place for some time and they are not on a fixed term lease, then you can renegotiate the terms of the lease. Renegotiation is only an option if you have not signed something allowing the tenant fixed-term access. Because you cannot change a fixed lease without the express consent of the tenant, it is more difficult to make legal changes if you have guaranteed the tenant a four-year lease or similar. On the other hand, if the tenant had a four-year lease, which is now expired or nearing expiration, you can change it.  

How to Change a Fixed Lease 

If you have a fixed lease then the only option is to discuss the changes with your tenant, and do your best to convince them that it is in their best interest. If they do not agree to the terms of the new lease and sign it, you cannot enforce the changes until the current lease expires.  

If you need help with your leasing contracts, Kirkland Property Management offers help with all paperwork,  including drafting and review by a professional real estate lawyer. Contact us for more information. 

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