Q: My roommate and I are both legally tied to a lease. He says that it is my responsibility to find a new roommate to sublease, but I say it’s his responsibility because he is the tenant wanting someone to take over his lease. What do you think?
A: You should first check the language in your lease, since most leases address the topic of subleasing, either by prohibiting a sublease or allowing subleases only if there is written approval by the landlord.
Landlords will typically run a standard screening procedure on the new tenant and either approve or disapprove the sublease to that tenant. Subleasing means another person takes over the original tenant’s unit by moving into the unit, paying rent and doing everything the original tenant agreed to do under the lease.
If nothing in your lease prohibits subletting, then your roommate most likely can sublet the place if your landlord agrees. However, it is your roommate’s responsibility to find the person, since your roommate is still liable for the rent if the new tenant doesn’t pay it.
Your current roommate is still bound by the terms in his rental lease, even if he has found another tenant to sublet the place. You should tell your roommate to get the agreement in writing and signed by both parties.
If the new tenant does not pay the rent, or if the new tenant damages the unit or leaves before the lease is up, your current roommate will be responsible to the landlord for any damage or unpaid rent. The original tenant, your current roommate, can then sue the new tenant to recover these costs.
Q: We live in a senior apartment building. The manager has decided to install a new range and oven, since they weren’t up to code, as well a makeover to the kitchen, including all new cupboards, and a new sink and vanity for our bathroom. All of these updates are going to be installed when our lease comes up. At that time, management has informed us they will raise the rent on our apartment by $100. Is this legal?
A: It is legal for a manager, owner or landlord to raise your rent by any amount they choose, regardless of improvements, once your lease is up or terminates, as long as they’ve given you adequate notice. For example, if you are on a month-to-month lease that requires a two months’ notice to terminate your lease, then your landlord needs to give you notice by March 31, 2018, for a rent increase to occur June 1, 2018.
If you are on a one-year lease, and your landlord has provided you with notice of the $100 rent increase to occur once your lease ends, then your landlord has probably given you sufficient notice.
There is no law that limits rent levels, except in subsidized housing. It is common for landlords or managers to raise the rent on apartments once a lease ends. It is then your decision as the tenant to renew your lease and pay the extra $100 a month, or find a new apartment elsewhere.
However, you could try and negotiate with your building manager, by stating that you cannot afford the $100 rent increase and would like to stay on at your same rate. If you’ve been a great tenant, many managers will want to keep you there, rather than look for a new tenant who may or may not pay rent on time. You could also request another apartment in the same senior building at your current rate. It’s important to get any new lease or agreement in writing and signed by both parties.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Kelly Klein c/o Star Tribune, 650 3rd Av. S., Minneapolis, MN 55488. Information provided by readers is not confidential.