My Tenant and I want to Renew a Lease.


My tenant and I want to renew a lease. The only item on the old lease that will change is the lease term. Do I have to enter into a new lease, or can I do a short addendum to the existing lease?


It is an “amendment” rather than an “addendum” that you are considering using.

When changes are being made to a lease (or any other contract) you can always either amend the existing contract or create a new document. It is usually best to create a new lease document when the number and complexity of changes being made is significant relative to the overall document. There are no set rules regarding the decision point, but for your case, with only one simple change being made, one would usually do an amendment.

Be sure that the amendment states that all other terms of the lease remain as before.

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I have a male applying for a 1 bedroom unit. Is it legal to rent to him if his 2 children (1 male, 1 female) stay with him on weekends?


I can’t at the moment think of any specific reason why it would be illegal for a man’s children of any gender to visit him on weekends as long as the apartment is habitable and presents no known health or safety risk. In fact, one must be very careful about making any restriction related to “familial status” of applicants or existing tenants, as doing so might be considered a violation of federal fair housing laws (and similar, often more restrictive, state or local laws).

Unless you have some specific knowledge based on factual evidence that would lead you to believe the children would be in danger, you probably have no right to question the matter.

Lease agreements usually have and should always have a clause that deals with visitors. Such clauses usually state that visitors may not remain longer than some number of days during a defined period – for example, a maximum of 2 weeks during a 6-month period. Such clauses sometimes require registration of visitors when staying longer than a specified time and often add an additional rent amount when the stay lasts longer. However, imposing such restrictions on children of a tenant could risk discrimination claims.

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I am renting a commercial building for our business. The roof leaked and destroyed some tool parts. Plus, I pay for the labor necessary to clean the water up after rain or after snow melts. Is my landlord liable for damages?


It will likely depend entirely on words in the lease agreement. For residential rentals, many things are controlled by state and/or local laws because the government seeks to protect consumers of which most are not knowledgeable enough to protect themselves when entering into contracts. However, for commercial rentals the government assumes that tenants who operate businesses are capable of looking out for themselves or will hire an attorney to protect themselves. Accordingly, commercial lease agreements are allowed to have much more flexibility regarding terms to which the landlord and tenant might agree.

The bottom line is that you must carefully read your lease agreement to see if there is any clause that might relate to the matter of concern. For example, you may actually be responsible for maintaining the roof yourself, a not uncommon thing in commercial leasing.

If there is absolutely nothing in the lease agreement that makes you responsible for the roof, then you might be able to pursue collection of damages from the landlord. If you cannot negotiate a settlement with him and consider it is necessary to file a lawsuit regarding the matter there are numerous circumstances that might affect your chance of winning in court. For example, even if you are not explicitly made responsible by the lease, if you had knowledge of the roof leaking or even to suspected that it might leak (e.g., water stains on the ceiling) prior to the subject event(s) that caused damages or extra expense and did not take steps to protect your belongings, this would likely reduce your chance of winning. This would be even more against you if you had not provided notice to the landlord of your concerns regarding possible problems and could prove you did so.

Commercial leases often contain clauses that indemnify the landlord against such problems. Commercial tenants are also expected to protect themselves by having their own adequate insurance coverages against damages and losses, no matter whose fault.

If your lease agreement contains relevant clauses, then those clauses will govern the matter. If you find clauses that you think might be relevant and need an opinion regarding them, you can post again with that information and I can attempt to provide additional input.

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