How do I add a friend to my lease agreement?
Unsplash/Alysa Bajenaru.

“I’ve been on a fixed-term lease for two months and would like a friend to move in with me. What should I do?” Tenant, NSW

We spoke to the Co-Founder and COO of Rent360, Penelope Valentine, about what’s expected from a renter and landlord in this situation.

“Firstly, the owner has to be advised of this request,” Penelope said.

“If the owner approves a second person to live in the property, that person has to submit an application and go through the normal due diligence to check their application.”

Penelope said that should the applicant be successful, the owner/agent will add them to the lease.

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Understanding your Residential Tenancy Agreement

If you have a group of co-tenants listed on a single tenancy agreement, the situation is the same as when a single tenant rents the whole property. You should always use the standard form Residential Tenancy Agreement.

You (as the original tenant) and the names of other tenant/s who are moving in will be on the tenancy agreement. In doing this, you’re effectively assigning the lease to another/other tenants.

You now share the rights and obligations of the tenancy agreement evenly. You will also need to agree about how rent will be divided up with your co-tenants. But everyone on the lease is jointly liable for the whole rental amount, as well as any damages that occur to the property.

Landlords: What are your rights when your tenant requests a change in a shared tenancy?

It’s worth keeping things simple when you lease your investment property. Shared tenancies and requested changes can make things a little less straightforward, but here’s what you need to know.

Has your tenant asked to share the home they’re renting from you to help meet rental costs? Your tenant has a right to ask this. There are a few ways to extend the tenancy agreement to more tenants or assign/transfer to new tenants.

Your existing tenant could share the property with another person as a:

  • co-tenant;
  • sub-tenant (where your tenant becomes the head tenant); or
  • boarder or lodger

For example, in New South Wales legislation, at least one of the original tenants must remain on the tenancy agreement, and they must seek written consent from you as the landlord to add a co-tenant or sub-tenant.

You must not unreasonably withhold consent. If you do, your tenant can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for an order that allows the transfer or sub-letting. NCAT will then decide if you withholding consent is unreasonable.

If you receive a request from your tenant to assign the existing lease to new co-tenants and/or transfer the tenancy agreement completely to a new tenant/s, then your next steps should be:

  • Speak with your agent about your rights and the rules of how this process should be done
  • A good property manager will give you example forms you can use for abiding by ‘written consent,’ and assisting your tenant in setting up their written agreements with sub-tenants.
  • If you’re considering your decision to consent to new co-tenant/s or sub-tenant/s, visit the Fair Trading website for information on what defines ‘reasonable withholding of consent.’

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Penelope Valentine
Penelope Valentine

Penelope Valentine is the Director and Co-Founder of Property Alchemy in New South Wales. Penelope's real estate career has spanned more than 18 years. In that time, she has held senior national management roles with McGrath, LJ Hooker and co-founded industry start-ups, including Rent360. She is qualified as a Licensed Real Estate Agent and holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Sydney University.