We are a mobile society. With the divorce rate well over 50%, many of those people on the move are breaking up with their significant other and moving out of the residence they’ve shared.
When I show a unit to an unmarried couple, I have them fill out the application and I immediately look at their separate and combined income. If only one person is working I prefer to have their name be the only one on the lease. If both are working and both incomes are needed to make the unit affordable, they both sign the lease. Or if one can afford it on their own, I have that person sign the lease. Why? Because it can get “sticky” if they split up later and both names are on the lease.
What happens if (when?) they break up and go their separate ways? If the person who signed the lease can afford to stay, then it’s easy for me as the landlord. He/she can stay, the other has to go. When a couple breaks up and both names are on the lease, I can’t make either of them leave, even though they sometimes beg me to do so.
If Landon and Ashley split up, they have to work it out — who stays, who leaves — and I’ll write up a new lease (provided we feel confident Ashley can pay on her own) and have Landon sign a paper saying, “I agree to ending the old lease, dated _______, and I’m giving up all tenancy and deposit rights, and understand the new lease is in Ashley’s name only.”
I just had this happen with a married couple. Fortunately, it wasn’t a combative situation and she gave him the key and the right to stay there. I had him fill out a new application because his job had changed; it seems he’ll be making enough money to pay the rent and I’m hoping things will work out.
As usual, I try to keep things simple. Although break-ups ups are part of reality, you can work your lease in a way that will minimize the hassle when things fall apart. Just make sure you think it through before you have your tenants sign the lease . . . as the old song says, breaking up is hard to do. When there’s a lease involved, it’s even harder.