Understanding Lease Amendment Forms

Lease agreements are the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship, outlining the terms and conditions of a rental arrangement. However, situations may arise where changes to the lease become necessary. This is where lease amendments and extensions come in.

This blog post is offered for general information purposes only. It does not constitute, and is not a substitute for, legal advice.

What is a lease amendment?

A lease amendment is a document that allows landlords and tenants to make changes or additions to an existing lease agreement without the need to create an entirely new contract. It is a flexible tool that ensures both parties are on the same page when adjustments are required during the lease term. Lease amendments can cover various aspects of the lease, such as rental terms, rules, and responsibilities.

Because a lease amendment is used to update a rental contract, it is also considered a contract and, therefore, legally binding. Because of this, lease amendments should be drafted with the same care and precision as any other contract. 

What is a lease extension?

A lease extension is a formal agreement between a landlord and a tenant to prolong the duration of an existing lease. This is typically done when both parties wish to continue the rental relationship beyond the original lease's expiration date. Lease extensions are generally useful in cases where the term of the extension is shorter than the rental period in the original lease, such as extending the duration by three months instead of a full year. 

Lease amendment vs. lease addendum 

The distinction between a lease amendment and a lease addendum lies in their purpose and the degree to which they modify existing lease agreements.

A lease amendment serves as a comprehensive tool for making changes to specific terms or conditions of the original lease. It is used when both the landlord and tenant agree to modify existing aspects of the lease, such as rent amounts, lease duration, or maintenance responsibilities. 

On the other hand, a lease addendum adds new terms or provisions to the existing lease agreement without changing the original terms. A lease addendum is typically used when there is a need to address a specific issue not initially covered in the lease, such as pet policies, security deposits, or rules related to property use. Rather than replacing existing lease terms, a lease addendum is an additional document that is attached to the original lease. The original lease terms remain in effect unless explicitly addressed in the addendum. 

When should landlords use a lease amendment form?

Understanding when and how to use a lease amendment form is crucial for all parties to navigate the landlord-tenant relationship with confidence and transparency. These forms are most useful when only a small number of lease terms need to be updated. Amending the leases saves both the landlord and the tenant from having to review and sign an entirely new agreement. Formalizing these changes by amending the lease helps protect the landlord and the tenant from any misunderstandings that may arise after the newly agreed-upon terms are put in place.

Instances of such updates include: 

1. Tenant wants to break lease early

Sometimes, tenants may encounter unforeseen circumstances that require them to terminate the lease before its agreed-upon end date. In these cases, a lease amendment can outline the terms and conditions for an early lease termination, including any associated fees or notice periods.

2. Tenant needs to alter payment plan

Financial situations can change, affecting a tenant's ability to adhere to the original rent payment schedule. A lease amendment can be used to modify payment terms, whether it's adjusting the due date, spreading payments over time, or changing the payment method.

3. Tenant wants to sublet

If a tenant wishes to sublet the property to another individual, a lease amendment can specify the terms and conditions of subletting, including identifying the subtenant and their responsibilities, as well as the responsibilities of the original tenant as they relate to the subtenant. 

4. Adding a new tenant to a lease

In cases where a tenant wishes to add a roommate or family member to the lease, a lease amendment can be used to update the lease to formally and legally include the new tenant's information and responsibilities.

5. New boundaries on property use

Landlords may choose to impose new rules or boundaries on the use of the rental property. A lease amendment can document these changes and ensure that tenants are aware of and agree to the updated terms.

Key elements of a lease amendment form

A lease amendment form should be drafted carefully to ensure clarity and legal compliance. While not all lease amendments have the same requirements, most share a few common features:

  • Identifying information. The lease amendment form should begin with identifying information, including the names and contact details of the landlord and tenant(s) involved, as well as the property address.
  • Reference to the original lease. The amendment form should reference the original lease by specifying the date it was signed and providing a brief description of the lease's terms and conditions. This helps establish the context for the amendments.
  • Description of amendments. The primary purpose of a lease amendment form is to outline the changes being made to the original lease. This section should be clear and specific, detailing each modification in language that is easy to understand.
  • Effective date. The form should specify when the amendments will take effect. It's important to clarify whether the changes apply retroactively, immediately, or on a future date.
  • Signatures. The landlord and tenant(s) should sign and date the lease amendment form to indicate their agreement to the proposed changes. These signatures make the amendments legally binding.
  • Notarization (if required). Depending on local requirements, it may be necessary to have the lease amendment form notarized. 

Draft lease amendment forms with Docusign

Docusign eSignature makes it simple to quickly draft lease amendment forms using a premade template. Simply generate the lease amendment, add in the specifics, and it’s ready for a signature. Once all signatures are collected, a final signed copy is automatically saved to your Docusign account and copies are sent to all parties.

Learn more about Docusign eSignature.

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