Can a landlord change a lease and make tenants re-sign it?

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Can a landlord change a lease and make tenants re-sign it?

My landlord included on the original lease that all 10 of us girls signed, as well as himself that parking s included free of charge. Since there are 10 girls we assumed that parking would be included for all of us unless stated in written consent that “5 parking spots are included” for example. He said he made a mistake and wants to make a new lease but we will not agree to that since we all already signed it. Therefore can he change a lease and want to re-sign it? And can we fight that we should get free parking and the 10 spots assumed on the lease?

Asked on May 12, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) While a landlord can *ask* if tenants will agree to modify a lease or sign a new lease, he canot require it--the lease is a contract, and is binding on all parties and enforceable against all parties for its duration. All parties--the landlord and all tenants--would have to voluntarily agree to make any changes to it.

2) As stated, the lease is enforceable. Sometimes, it is not clear what exactly is meant; that said, if from the way the lease is written and the context/facts of when it was signed, the most reasonable interpretation would be that there would be a parking spot for each tenant, you might be able to prevail if you sued the landlord. It is not necessarily the case that you could get additional spots, if there are no spots available; but you may be able to get monetary compensation, such as a reduction in rent to reflect the lesser value of a rental without adequate parking, or money from the the landlord to cover the cost or renting parking elsewhere. Note that the landlord will not voluntarily provide compensation, the only way to get it would be to sue, and lawsuits are never guaranteed; factor in the cost, inconvenience, damage to landlord-tenant relationship, and the fact that it's not a given you'd win into deciding what to do.


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