Can the terms of tenancy be changed after a lease is signed?

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Can the terms of tenancy be changed after a lease is signed?

I have 2 dogs. Both are well trained and well behaved. I took them for a walk and at that time the owner of the complex said that all dogs have to have a muzzle on for now on if we walk them in the complex or even take them out to relieve themselves. They are also requiring a $50/month pet fee; it was $25. My lease says nothing about muzzling dogs or the increased fee. My lease is not up for another 10 months which I will be moving as soon as it’s up. What are my rights – do I have to sign a new lease and abide by any rule they just make up?

Asked on February 4, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract; it binds both parties. Neither party may unilaterally, or on its own, change the terms of the lease, whether it's payment terms or some action or behavior a party must take. The only exception would be if the lease itself incorporates some flexibility or discretion. For example, a lease could say that the tenant shall "abide by all reasonable building or community rules which the landlord may from time to time make" or that the tenant shall "pay such additional assessments as the landlord deems is necessary"--but unless  the lease itself in some way provides for additional or changed rules or fees, the landlord may not otherwise add new requirements or change the tems without the tenant's agreement or consent.


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