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Lease Agreement

This Agreement is entered by and between Jonas Adam, individually or collectively as the "Signee" and Jane Smith, as the "Signer", together referred to as the "Parties".
The Contract is dated [the date both parties sign].

1. Agreement terms

The Parties agree that the following agreement is dependent on the terms presented as follow:

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Lease Agreement

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Most adults have had to sign a lease at some point in their lives. Residential leases cover rental agreements where a tenant rents a property from a landlord for a set period of time. Commercial leases are for a rental property that is to be used for business purposes.

Generally speaking, these leases are for extended periods of time and can be very complex. So what happens if, after a lengthy and cumbersome signing process, the lease needs to be changed? This can happen for any number of reasons and is actually more likely to happen than not. Additionally, what if the original lease was written hastily and is in dire need of clarification?

In those cases, you will want to employ a lease amendment to modify the terms of the lease in specific ways. When both the landlord and tenant agree to new terms, the lease amendment allows them to enact the changes without having to completely redo the original lease. Thus, the arrangement can continue harmoniously! Read below for more details about drafting and using a lease amendment.

What Exactly is a Lease Amendment?

As discussed, a lease is a contract between two parties (the tenant and the landlord) that gives the tenant the right to live in or use a particular property, owned by the tenant, for a specified period of time. A well-done and agreed-upon lease agreement will protect both parties and make sure everyone’s needs are being met.

Contract, Signature, Lease, Available
It's always best to have a lease agreement when you move to a new property or when someone new moves into your property. (Source)

However, with long-term contracts and agreements, things are bound to change over time. A properly done lease agreement cannot be changed without agreement from both parties, so a lease amendment will need to be filed. A lease amendment is a formal document outlining written changes being made to the original lease.

A good lease amendment should include a few key pieces of information:

  • Names of all parties
  • Date of the original lease and date of the amendment
  • Information about the property in question
  • Description of the amendment- is it making changes to existing terms or adding new terms?

Benefits of a Lease Amendment

Using a lease amendment to modify a lease is recommended primarily because it prevents you from having to completely redo the original lease. Often those agreements can be incredibly complex and take months to formalize. Employing a lease amendment is a much shorter and simpler process that highlights only the part of the agreement that needs to be changed.

A lease amendment also helps create a written timeline of lease activities and communication surrounding the changes. This is always helpful in the event of future disputes

Is it a Lease Addendum?

Lease amendments are often called lease addenda. While they are incredibly similar, they are not always interchangeable terms and documents. Lease amendments cover any changes to an existing lease. Lease addenda only apply when new information is being added to the original lease. An amendment that simply changes the pet policy of an existing lease would not be considered an addendum. An amendment that adds a pet policy where one did not exist before would count as a lease addendum.

Is it a Rental Amendment?

Lease amendments are also often called rental amendments. This is because of the existence of rental agreements in addition to lease agreements. Rental agreements and lease agreements are, again, very similar but not always interchangeable. The primary difference between the two is that a lease agreement typically refers to a longer rental period while a rental agreement is often short-term or even month-to-month. Rental agreements generally renew after each month, allowing both parties to make adjustments to the terms frequently.

Thus, a rental amendment is a formally documented change to a rental agreement, which is not always applicable to a lease agreement. Care should be taken when using these terms, as each document is legally binding and should be executed in a knowledgeable and comprehensive manner.

Reasons to Amend a Lease

There may exist any number of reasons for a lease to be amended.  The longer the duration of the lease agreement, the more likely it is that one or both parties will need the terms to be modified. This is true of both residential and commercial leases. An amendment may be proposed by either the landlord or the tenant, but must be agreed upon by both in order to be formalized.

For landlords, an amendment might serve a few functions. It could be used to change the rental price from the original document. This can happen if the property increases in value over time and the landlord wishes to increase the rent. It could also happen if the tenant has been a valuable and responsible occupant and the landlord wishes to decrease the rent as an incentive.

A landlord may also wish to add or remove a pet policy over time based on the activity of the tenant or changes to local laws. Amending the lease can also come in handy if a landlord wants to reduce the number of people allowed to occupy the space after a negative experience.

A tenant may also wish to amend the lease for a few different reasons. He or she may wish to have a significant other move in or to sublet the space to someone else, or are bringing on a new roommate to the rented space. A tenant may also want to make improvements to the property and wants permission and terms to be specified in the lease. They may also be coming to the formal end of the original lease document and will need to sign a Lease Renewal Agreement.

Another circumstance that may call for a lease amendment is one that benefits both parties. If, for example, a business experiences a rough patch and has trouble making rent for the first time in several years, the landlord may be willing to amend the lease to lower the rent temporarily. Doing so can help the tenant maintain occupancy at an affordable rate until business improves, and it ensures for the landlord that space will not be vacant in the meantime.

Downtown LA
These spaces may have been vacant for some time. (Source)

Both parties may also wish to extend the duration of the agreement and can do so via an amendment to the dates. This can also be done with a lease renewal.

How to Draft a Lease Amendment

When creating your lease amendment, the most important thing is to make sure that both the tenant and the landlord are in complete agreement. The first step is to clearly and definitively negotiate all terms with the other party.

Once that has been put in place, you can find a template for a lease amendment or addendum online, or you can modify the original lease format. If you used a lawyer to draft the original agreement, you may wish to secure their services for this step as well, as a poorly-done amendment can impact the validity of the original document as well. There are a few things you should make sure to include in your document though.

Your document should begin by identifying the two parties and the date at which the amendment will become effective. You should include information about the date of the original lease and the address of the property in question.

Next, you should add a statement of intention. Indicate clearly that both parties are interested in amending the original lease. After that, go ahead and list out the new terms as negotiated previously. Specify whether this is an amendment to an existing section or new addition. You should also indicate whether or not the original lease has been previously amended. If so, list the previous amendments and their respective dates.

Once complete, have both parties sign and date the document. Have a notary public witness and stamp the final document. Have your legal team review again if applicable.

Handling Disputes

It is imperative that the tenant and landlord agree to the new terms in order to execute a lease amendment. If the landlord and tenant are in disagreement, the process cannot move forward. In this case, you will need to examine the termination and amendment terms of the original lease.

It is likely that one party will either need to terminate the arrangement entirely or wait until the lease has expired before proposing changes. In this case, be sure to read the terms of the lease to know how much notice must be given before sending your intent to vacate.

Sublease Agreements and Lease Agreements

A sublease agreement is where an original renter rents out a portion of a property or the entire property. These agreements are common if an individual wants to rent out a room or will be out of town for an extended period of time. Commercial property renters also sublease portions of a property to help mitigate rental costs. 

With any type of lease agreement, it is incredibly important to have a binding contract created. Below are details that this contract needs to contain in order to protect a sublandlord:

  • Names of everyone involved should be listed as well as the property address included in the agreement. There has to be clear wording on whether the sublease includes a room or the entire rental property.
  • The length of the sublease along with monthly rental fees should be made very clear.
  • A security deposit should be required and terms for the return of the deposit be detailed.

Having a property that you are renting being subleased can be risky. You are responsible ultimately for any damage done if your sublease agreement is not thorough enough. 

Notices of Intent to Vacate and Lease Agreements

A notice of intent to vacate a property is a written notice that is to be given to the landlord. This is to be done when there is no intention of renewing a lease. Both landlords and renters can create these notices depending on the situation. A landlord that has had constant issues with a renter can create this to allow the renter to know that leasing the property again is not an option. 

The notice should include specific details that are listed below:

  • The notice should include personal details like name and address. The landlord’s information should also be included as well. 
  • The date you intend to vacate should be listed with any issues or reasons being cited for breaking a lease.
  • If the lease is coming to an end issues with the landlord shouldn’t be included as they still have your security deposit.
  • Mentioning the security deposit is important as it will likely serve as a part of a security deposit for a new rental. 
  • Asking your landlord to forward your mail to your current address is wise. This can be done online but you do not want documents of importance being opened by another person. 

Vacating a property can be done for a variety of reasons and can be an exciting transition. 

Late Rent Notices and Leasing Agreements

A late rent notice is a document that all landlords hate to send out as it is far easier to simply be paid on time. State laws differ on the requirements of landlords to send a late rent notice. A late rent notice should contain the following details:

  • The names of the tenants and the address of the property.
  • Late fees that will be incurred and dates that will apply to the fees.
  • The signature of the landlord.
  • Acceptable forms of payment whether electronic or by check/credit card. 

Late rent notices will inform a tenant that simply could have forgotten about rent. Documentation of these notices are important for renters that are habitually late with their payments.

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