How to Add a Roommate to a Lease

Whether it's finding a new roommate to move in so you can save some money, or having a boyfriend or girlfriend move in, getting a roommate added to a lease is something you want to check with your landlord about before letting the new person move in.

Most landlords will insist that the new roommate become a co-tenant, and will have the same rights and responsibilities as you do.

Getting Approval

Let's assume that you've already found a roommate who is compatible with you and is financially stable enough to share in the rent.

Your landlord may still want to do a background check on the new roommate, because the landlord's list of qualifications may be higher or different than yours.
Consider asking these questions before approaching the landlord:

  • Will adding a roommate exceed the occupancy limit? Landlords are entitled to set reasonable limits on the number of occupants per rental unit, which is usually two people per bedroom. Some cities allow more.
  • Will the new roommate meet your landlord's good-tenant criteria? Ask your prospective roommate to get a credit report on themselves. If it's a good report, give it to the landlord with the new tenant's application. While the landlord will likely get a credit report on his own, it's good to have it so you know ahead of time if there are any negative aspects that need to be explained -such as bankruptcy. The landlord's screening may also include checking the prospective tenant's rental history and references.
Write a note to your landlord requesting that a new roommate be added to the lease or rental agreement. This will make the request less stressful and lead to less pressure on the landlord and give them a chance to think about it.

Make your case that the rental unit is large enough for another person, and point out how your new roommate will also be a great tenant.

Aaron Crowe has live in at least five rental units in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at

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