What are a tenant’s rights regarding a renewal lease?

UPDATED: Jun 2, 2011

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What are a tenant’s rights regarding a renewal lease?

I’m up for renewal on my lease. I’ve lived here for 9 years and have never once been late on rent. Can they require my new girlfriend to be on the lease and undergo a background check?

Asked on June 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If the lease states that it will renew automatically or as long as a party does not give notice in proper way, it should renew under the same terms as previously. If that lease did not restrict you from havin=g a live-in girlfriend not on the lease, you may have her--though if the lease identifies permitted occupants, you might not be able to have her without putting her on the lease, since she would, presumably, not be one of the originally listed permitted occupants.

However, the law generally does not require renewals; if the lease term is up or coming up, either party may generally--subject only to the terms of the lease regarding renewal--choose to not renew. If it's therefore a situation where  renewal is optional for both sides, the landlord could elect to not renew, but instead--if you want to have a new occupant with you, your girlfriend--requiure that a new lease be executed, that all occupants be acceptable, and that all occupants be on the lease. The landlord has considerable freedom to set the terms and conditions under which you rent what is, after all, the landlord's property.

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