The aim of writing this article is to help occupiers and lease seekers get over problems emanating from apartment sharing especially when it involves the issues of succession right, subletting and assigning of apartment.
The contentious issue of apartment sharing has continually been a subject of arguement and disagreement between occupiers and the property owners.
Based on my findings, many property owners disapprove of apartment sharing because they misconstrue apartment sharing as subletting or assigning of apartment to a subtenant contracted by the tenant or the principal tenant as the case may be which often time is performed without the consent of the owner.
This conduct by the tenant most time causes a rancorous legal battle between the property owner and the tenant. Before we proceed, i would love to correct some of the erroneous beliefs or norm many people have about apartment sharing, subleasing and assigning of apartment that is causing a face-off between property owners and tenants every now and then.
Subleasing and Assigning is when a tenant whose name is on the lease contract agreement that may be refered to as the principal tenant decides to temporarily or permanently leave his/her apartment and transfers less than or the entire interest he/she has in the apartment to someone else that would be refered to as the subtenant.
However, If the principal tenant transfers less than the entire interest, this is known as subleasing but if he/she transfers full or the entire interest in the apartment to someone else then that process is called assigning.
The obligations and expectations of property owners and tenants, and the process involved in a successful subleasing and assigning of apartment to a subtenant is not what i would be able to cover in this article for us not to deviate from the topic or lose focus of the aim of this article. Hopefully, in my subsequent articles the topic will be properly dealt with in detail. For now, lets do ourselves the favour of concentrating on apartment sharing by occupiers or tenants.
Basically, tenants have the right to sublease and assign their apartment but it has to be done in confines of the tenancy law of that state. They also have the right to share their apartment with immediate family members if they want to and I must also state that it is unlawful for property owners to deny or restrict occupancy of apartment to immediate family member or any person who can prove emotional, financial commitment, interdependence with the tenant or any person named on the lease.
To further understand this concept of apartment sharing properly, if we have a tenant who signs a lease contract agreement alone, he/she is permitted to share the apartment with immediate family, one additional occupant with his/her dependent children provided the tenant whose name is on the lease contract agreement or his spouse use the premises as their primary residence.
Moreover, a lease contract agreement with more than one tenant named on it, implies that the tenants are legally allowed to share the apartment with their immediate family members since they all have their names on the lease agreement.
The major challenge of this type of lease contract agreement involving more than one tenant is the confusion that arise in the event of one of the tenants leaving or moving out of the rented apartment. The practice all over the globe is that the tenant can be replaced with another occupant together with the children of the occupant as long as the name of the outgoing tenant is on the lease agreement and any other tenant whose name is on the lease agreement or the spouse use the shared apartment as a primary residence.
If a tenant decides to share and brings in any family members or anyone into the apartment he/she has the responsibility of informing the property owner within 30 days of allowing that person into the apartment.
The right of the person to continue to stay in the apartment siezes immediately the tenant who accommodated the person and whose name is on the lease agreement moves out or vacate the premises.
It is also worty of note that the remaining occupants need the consent or the express permission of the property owner to continue staying in the apartment. We should also be mindful that property owners has the right to limit the number of occupants in an apartment to the legally required limit to comply with the overcrowding standards as set by the law.
On a final note, as i have rightly mentioned earlier in this article family members or any other person who can prove emotional, financial commitment and interdependence with the tenant whose name is on the lease contract agreement and who has lived with the tenant either from the commencement of the tenancy or not less than two years is entitled to succeed the right of the tenant upon permanent departure or death.
Anyone that fits into or meets the requirements to succeed the right of a tenant is protected by law against eviction by the property owner. Hence, it becomes important and apparent for tenants to present list of people living with them and their relationship with them to the property owner to guide against the unexpected.
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