Getting married marks an exciting new chapter of life, but it also brings many new domestic changes. For instance, if you and your husband weren’t already living together before your wedding, you will no doubt want to change that. If the two of you plan to make your new love nest in the residence you were already renting, with or without other roommates, usually you can simply have your landlord add your husband to the lease and give him a set of keys.
Typically, you can add your husband to your lease as a co-tenant with no obstacles. Simply inform your landlord or property manager that you wish to do so. Landlords rarely oppose such requests and seldom have the legal power to deny them. Once you have your landlord’s acknowledgement, get together to complete the necessary lease amendment paperwork.
In most jurisdictions, legally married couples have an absolute right to add one another to an existing rental lease agreement. This constitutes one of the many legal privileges of marriage in the United States. In contrast, landlords in most places have the right to deny a renter’s request to add her boyfriend or same-sex domestic partner to a rental lease. If you recently got married and your landlord previously denied your request to add your boyfriend to the lease, try again now that he is your husband.
In most jurisdictions, landlords can ask you to pony up more for the privilege of installing your new husband in the home. The grounds for allowing a nondiscriminatory, market-based rent increase when he moves in is that two people cause more wear and tear to a residence than does a single occupant. Check the landlord-tenant laws in your jurisdiction, as this varies by location -- especially in rent-controlled or rent-stabilized areas -- but in general, prepare to accept a rent increase.
Discriminatory Rental Increase
Rent increases, though discretionary, usually must be market driven and not discriminatory based on factors like race and gender. If the new rent figure demand seems suspiciously high, ask your landlord to break down the costs and feel free to negotiate a lower figure. In the end, however, you have only limited recourse to refuse the landlord’s demands. You won’t win a suit in court unless you can prove that the rent increase runs afoul of the anti-discrimination laws, which takes time, money and legal assistance.
Josh Fredman is a freelance pen-for-hire and Web developer living in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, studying engineering, and worked in logistics, health care and newspapers before deciding to go to work for himself.