What are my responsibilities if tenants are divorcing and each wants the other taken off the lease?

Tenant A left town and Tenant B moved her belongings into the garage and moved his girlfriend in. Tenant A wants to move back into the house with her sister and Tenant B wants to live there with his new girlfriend. They signed a lease where they are jointly and severally liable. Each has asked me to remove the other from the lease which I can’t do without their consent. Do I just wait for them to either fail to pay rent or decide who wants to stay and have them reapply? They were accepted based on Tenant B’s income. Should that factor into the decision?

Asked on July 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract. Until its expiration, it may not be modified or changed without the consent of all parties--i.e. without the agreement of the landlord and all tenants on the lease. If the tenants will not agree as to who remains and who  doesn't, you may not legally remove either from the lease--doing so is breach of contract and would expose you to liability. You must leave the lease as is. If they give you grounds to evict them (e.g. nonpayment), you could do so; once that happens, you would be free to re-rent to one or the  other--or neither--at your option.


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