Adding tenants to agreements

Question from Sandra updated on 14th August 2018:

Our tenant has let us know that she would like to "trial a flatmate" for a few months (until her Tenancy Agreement ends) to see if they would like to live together long term and has asked if we could "add her friend to the Tenancy Agreement".

Do we have to cancel our tenant's current Tenancy Agreement (which has a maximum of one tenant noted in it) and create a new one with a "trial flatmate" added as a tenant or can we add an addendum that we all sign to the Tenancy Agreement we currently have?

The latter would be easier, but if the "trial flatmate" turns out to be trouble, I would think it would be better to have her as a tenant...or not? What do you recommend, please? 

Our expert Jennifer Sykes responded:

There are a few options available to you in this situation. One option would be to amend the current tenancy agreement with the mutual consent of all parties (e.g: the landlord, the current and continuing tenant, and any new tenants to be added). Any variation to the agreement - such as the addition of another tenant or amending the maximum permitted occupants - should be clearly documented and signed by all parties to clearly identify what changes have been agreed to.

Another option would be to end the current tenancy by mutual consent from a specific date, and start a new tenancy agreement with the existing tenant and new tenant both named as tenants on the tenancy agreement. All tenants that are listed on the tenancy agreement can be held liable for the tenancy. Alternatively, the tenant may allow others to live with them providing they do not exceed the maximum amount of people allowed to live at the tenancy. In this instance, the ‘trial flatmate’ would be considered a flatmate of the tenant during this period and not a tenant.

A variation to the agreement allowing the tenant to have one other person reside at the property would allow the tenant to find a flatmate to live with them. There is no need for flatmates to be named on the agreement as they are not tenants.

For more on the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants, go to www.tenancy.govt.nz or subscribe to our e-newsletter Tenancy Matters here

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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