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What if one of my tenants gets married?

When one of your tenants gets married, a few things could theoretically happen. The tenant might want to break the lease and move out. Or the tenant might move out but continue to pay rent until the lease ends.

On the other hand, the new couple might choose to live apart. More likely, the new spouse might move in. Does that mean you will have to approve the new occupant and put him or her on the lease? What if you do not want that person there?

Is the marriage official?

One of the first things to do is verify the marriage. Many times, the marriage did actually happen. Sometimes, though, telling a landlord, "I got married, and this is my husband who will live here full time now," is another way for a tenant to move out and move another person in to pay the rent. You can check public records or ask to see a copy of the marriage certificate.

Is the apartment rent controlled?

If the apartment is rent controlled, the tenant does have the right for the spouse's name to be added to the lease if the apartment will be the spouse's primary residence. You cannot increase the tenants' rent for this reason.

Does the spouse want to be an occupant or a tenant?

As a landlord, you have a legal relationship with your tenants. However, occupants are not on leases, and your rights are fairly limited as far as occupants go. Tenants generally have the right to bring a spouse (and stepchildren) in after a marriage occurs without the new residents having to undergo applications, criminal checks and credit checks. However, your tenant does need to notify you in writing within 30 days about any new occupants. Occupants must also leave if the tenant does.

If the new spouse wants to be on the lease, then you are probably within your rights to ask for an application, credit check and criminal check. A lawyer can evaluate the nuances in your case.

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