Can a landlord change the lease agreement on a house rental?

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Can a landlord change the lease agreement on a house rental?

I rent a home where I do daycare. My landlord has given me 2 options, either quit daycare or be charged an extra $250 a month for rent. We have a lease and it does not say I cannot do daycare. We have made many improvements to the home and the landlord loves it and I think he sees that he can get more money for the property. Can he change our lease like this? Can he force me to not do daycare? I have been doing this for 10 years and have never had any complaints from anyone. I only watch 6 kids.

Asked on August 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, South Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Normally,a landlord may not change a lease during the middle of its term. However, if the tenant is not using a home purely as a residence, but is instead also running a home businiess--especially one that presents a substantial risk of liability--the landlord may be able to: in the case, in essence, the landlord would be saying that you violated the lease, by not using the property for the purpose for which he rented it and which you represented, implicitly or explicitly, you would be usinng it for.

If the landlord has been aware of you doing this for 10 years and has consistently allowed you to renew your lease despite such knowledge, you may be able to argue that the landlord has waived (by his acquiescence in, or  acceptance of, your daycare) his right to complain or allege breach. Therefore, because of how long you have been doing it, you might be able to defeat the landlord's attempt to force to you stop providing daycare at your home, but be aware that it is not a given that you would prevail--as stated, normally using a residential premises for a business, especially one with liability risk, would allow the landlord to treat the lease as breached.

Also bear in mind that on lease renewal, the landlord would be on firm ground to seek an increase, and/or require you to provide enhanced insurance, and/or to even not renew your lease.


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