What can be done against a landlord that added a tenant to a lease without the consent of the original leaseholders?

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What can be done against a landlord that added a tenant to a lease without the consent of the original leaseholders?

2 friends and I moved in to a 4 room residence and signed a lease for the house. Before signing we told the landlord that we would be searching for a fourth person to occupy the last room. The 4th occupant moved in a little over a month later and had moved out again before the end of our first lease. While suing the landlord for failure to return our deposit, we found that our landlord had approached the 4th occupant separately, without our knowledge or consent, and had him sign the lease.

Asked on February 6, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, an extra party cannot be added to a lease (or any contract) without the consent of all parties to the lease. Therefore, what your landlord did is wrongful.

You can bring a legal action seeking a "declaratory judgment," under which the court will issue an order declaring that the 4th person was not a party to the lease; that will clear up legal rights. You may also be able to recover compensation, such as legal fees, since, from what you write, the landlord's behavior was clearly and intentionally wrongful. (But note: it is never a given to get legal fees in U.S. courts; you need to assume you may end up paying your own fees.)


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