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


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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.