A reader who is renting a property wants to know if she can cancel her lease and replace it with an updated agreement which reflects a number of alterations she wishes to make.
The current lease addresses provisions relating to water and electricity. She says the electricity has been converted to a prepaid system and she wants to do the same in respect of water.
See the reader’s question here.
She adds that other environmental factors may influence provisions in the agreement of lease and this is her reason for wishing to create a new one which incorporates the changes.
The reader should begin by examining the provisions of the agreement.
In this way she can determine whether the changes she is effecting to the rental property are permitted. It could be that the lease already permits such physical alterations.
For example, the parties may have envisaged certain changes prior to concluding the lease and accordingly made provision for such alterations at that time.
The agreement may permit the changes with the consent of the landlord, which is typically required to be given in writing before the tenant effects any of the intended changes.
In these instances it would be unnecessary for any amendments to be made to the agreement itself as it would cater for the required changes.
On the other hand, if the lease does not say anything about allowing alterations it is not necessary for it to be cancelled merely to amend its terms.
It may indeed be subject to a specific period and may still be effective for a number of months or years.
Our reader’s possible attempt to cancel the lease could be regarded as a breach by the landlord, regardless of her intentions.
Depending on the lease conditions it could be as simple as the reader getting written consent from the landlord for the alterations or obtaining approval for any intended alterations.
In the event of both parties agreeing to the alterations, the consent would be via an addendum to the agreement.
This would set out any historical alterations to the rented property and any envisaged alterations, as well as record the landlord’s consent.
Importantly, the reader should also ensure that the ownership of any alterations is addressed.
This is usually only required where any improvements are able to be removed upon termination of the lease.
Alternatively the agreement should state whether our reader should be compensated for the improvements upon termination of the lease.
Addressing any such practicalities would potentially prevent a dispute between the landlord and the reader upon the termination of the lease and vacation of the rented property.
It is often the case that a tenant expects to be reimbursed or compensated to some extent for any improvements made during the currency of the rental.
Clearly, reimbursement or compensation is not always a consideration the landlord is prepared to take into account upon termination.
This is especially the case when improvements are only of value to that tenant and do not substantially and positively influence the rented property.
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