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Can my landlord modify my lease mid-term?

It is not uncommon for a landlord to attempt to change provisions of a lease while still within the terms of that lease. In almost all cases, this is a breach of the lease, and should not be tolerated by a tenant. Often, a landlord who attempts to make such changes is a novice trying to deal with a specific tenant problem in a poor way. Understanding some of the basic reasons a landlord may attempt to modify a lease agreement while the term is still active may help you know how to approach the situation if and when you find yourself or your business facing it.

A landlord without a great deal of experience or knowledge of leasing laws may attempt to make changes to provisions within a lease during the term of the lease, either out of ignorance or out of an assumption that the changes will go unchallenged. In many cases, this is a reactionary measure in response to an ongoing problem with specific tenants, or an attempt to lower his or her costs as landlord.

These changes can take many forms. Landlords may inform tenants of increased fees for late rent, or move the date when rent is due. They may institute charges or restrict access for amenities which were previously free, or impose extra penalties using inconvenient services. Most commonly, a landlord may attempt to raise rent altogether within the term of an existing lease. While a landlord does generally retain the right to modify a lease, doing so in the middle of a lease's term should not be taken without a challenge from tenants.

Operating your business is difficult enough without having to deal with the hassle of an ill-informed or unscrupulous landlord. In the even that a landlord does attempt to modify your lease mid-term, the representation of an experienced attorney can help inform him or her of proper procedures for modifying leases and help to protect your rights as a tenant.

Source: rentprep.com, "Can Landlords Change the Rules in Mid-lease?," Stephen Michael White, accessed July 12, 2016

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