Q. I’m a new investment property owner and there are a couple of things that have come up. I hope you can help me. First of all, I have a no smoking clause in my rental agreement but when I went over to the unit the other day the tenant was puffing on an e-cig. Does my no smoking clause cover that or do I need special language in the rental agreement? Not only that, the person who answered the door introduced himself as the new roommate! I had no idea. What should I do? Raise the rent?
A. Welcome to the joys of being a landlord! Let’s tackle the first question first. Vaping is not the same as smoking. Most landlords and property managers have “no smoking” clauses in their rental agreements these days.
It’s almost standard.
I would suggest that you also include wording in the next rental agreement prohibit any type of smoking cigarettes, cigars, e-cigs, etc. as it is too late for your current tenant. If you do renew the lease you can include the same wording in the renewal in the form of an addendum or in special terms. If the tenant is on a month-to-month lease then you can include it via addendum or in special terms with 45-days notice. Anytime you change the rent or any condition of a month-to-month lease you must give a 45-day written notice.
Now your second question is a little trickier. I really can’t tell you what you should do but can tell you what you can do. Again, if the tenant is on a month-to-month lease then yes, indeed you can raise the rent with a 45-day notice. You cannot raise the rent if the tenant is on a fixed lease…unless he agrees to amend the rental agreement. For example, you could say, “Okay, I agree to allow your roommate to live here too, but starting next month let’s mutually agree that you will pay x-amount of rent and that he has to fill out a rental application and be added to the lease.” If you are using the Hawaii Association of Realtors Standard Form rental agreement, then you can cite Standard Terms B.11, No Subleasing or Additional Tenants, which states, “No additional tenants, subleasing, or assignment of this Rental Agreement will be allowed without the prior written consent of landlord. Guests may not stay longer than fourteen (14) days without written approval of landlord.” You can also cite Standard
Term C.2, Failure to Comply with this Rental Agreement. This clause says, “If tenant fails to comply with any of the terms of this Rental Agreement, including damaging the Unit or violating any of the house rules, laws, or other restrictions, landlord will give tenant written notice of the violation. If the damage is not repaired or the violation is not corrected within the specified time (not less than ten (10) days) from receipt of such notice, landlord may correct such damage or violation and charge the cost to tenant and terminate this Rental Agreement…..” Hopefully it won’t come to that. Or you can simply have the additional tenant fill out an application and just add him to the Rental Agreement.