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How to Add a Housemate or Partner to Your Lease

By George Hadgelias

Just like in the rest of our lives, changes with housing arrangements are likely to occur over time. Partners and housemates can come and go and it becomes necessary to update the record with a landlord.

While tenancy legislation differs state-to-state, the general principles of adding someone new to a lease – whether it’s a spouse or a new housemate – are the same and involve working closely with the landlord, or a property manager if they have one.

Here’s how to add a housemate or partner to your lease.

Do I need to add everyone living at my house to my lease?

Corey Love who is the leasing manager at Hugo Alexander Property Group said there are two ways people can inhabit a property; as a leaseholder or what is known as an approved occupant.

“So, the leaseholder or leaseholders – determined by many variables, including rental affordability – have a legal obligation to meet the tenant contract and can be held liable for late rent payments or damage by them or the approved occupants,” he said.

“For example, if you have a family of three; Mum, Dad and a 20-year-old son, while the 20-year-old is old enough to be a leaseholder, he might only work casually and be unable to afford the rent. So, Mum and Dad are the actual leaseholders, and the son would be listed as an approved occupant.”

Partner or spouse

While a partner or spouse can be listed as a leaseholder, they can also be added as an approved occupant.

“It all comes down to the criteria for renting that property, (which takes into account) references, affordability and rental history,” Mr Love said.

Children

Children aren’t listed on the actual lease, Mr Love said. “But during the leasing process, you will be asked how many children you have and their names so they will be added to the list of approved occupants,” he said.

“This is so the property manager and landlord know who is living in the house and that the property isn’t overcrowded and conforms to local council regulations.”

Housemates/friends

A housemate or friend over the age of 18 who lives at the house should be listed on the lease, either as a leaseholder or approved occupant.

How long can someone stay at my house before I need to add them to the lease?

While visitors are allowed under almost all leases, if someone stays for two weeks or more, or more than three nights a week, the property manager needs to be notified, Mr Love said.

“They need to know someone else is living in the residence and they are added as approved occupants. Even if a family member is there for an extended holiday, it is still required to let the leasing agent know about the additional person on the property,” he said.

Can a landlord refuse to add an additional person to my lease?

The landlord can refuse a request to add someone to the lease, Mr Love said.

“If a person’s reference or affordability checks come back negatively, the landlord can refuse to add them.” If the person has a negative listing on TICA, Australia’s largest tenancy database, they can also be denied being added to the lease.

If you’re unsure of the person’s rental history then it’s best to check to see if they’ve been blacklisted on a tenancy database before speaking with the agent or landlord.

How is someone new added to a lease?

Adding someone new to the lease is an involved process and the new addition has to go through the same process as at the start of a new lease, Mr Love said.

“If someone is leaving the lease, they have to get their bond refunded and removed from the lease. Anyone new to the lease has to undergo the same checks, such as references and affordability.

“If they are not approved to be added to the lease, they can be added as an approved occupant. A lease is a legal document, so you only want to add people who can fulfil their legal obligations,” he said.

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