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Subletting Your Apartment

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If you are in a bind and must temporarily leave your apartment, you may consider subletting. Terminating your lease is often not a practical option--your landlord will rarely permit you to leave the rental without fulfilling the terms of your agreement. Subletting can be a complicated process as well, so make sure it is the right decision to make for your situation

Some common reasons to consider subletting include:

  • Work. Got a great new job across the country and can’t get out of your lease? Need to transfer temporarily with your existing job to a different city? Subletting your rental can get you out of a tough work-related conundrum.


  • School. If you get the chance to study abroad or decide to transfer to another school to finish your degree, your lease may be holding you back. A sublet can take care of your rental until you can return or end your lease term.


  • Family crisis. Unexpected family emergencies, such as ill relatives or a sudden death may call you away from your home for a period of time. To avoid wasting money on your rent while you help your loved ones in troubled times, subletting can be a lifesaver.

How to Sublet Your Apartment

If you have decided to proceed with subletting your apartment, you will have to be informed and cautious when requesting permission, seeking a tenant, and constructing your agreement.

Make sure it's legal

In some cities, it's illegal to lease out your home or apartment if you are not living there. Other areas have restrictions--in New York City, it's illegal to sublet your rental for less than 30 days while you are not a current resident. Violation of these laws will often result in steep fines, so check the legal restrictions for your region before making any further arrangements.

Find a reliable tenant

Even though you will not be living in your rental, your name is still on the lease and you are still responsible for paying rent and maintaining your apartment's condition. Make sure you choose a trustworthy subletter to keep a good repertoire with your landlord--and afford evictions and lawsuits!

  • Ask friend, co-workers, and family for recommendations.


  • Post advertisements on Craigslist, Air Bnb, Subleaser and other classified websites.


  • Interview any prospective tenant before handing over the keys. You may also request references, or pay for a quick background check to be extra careful.

Ask important questions

When interviewing any possible candidate, there is essential information you'll need to determine if they are a worthy choice. These include:

  • Are you employed? Where?


  • What is your monthly income?


  • Will anyone else be residing in the rental?


  • Do you have pets? (This is especially important if your rental has a no pets policy)


  • Do you smoke? (If you plan on living in the rental in the future, you may not want it to smell like cigarettes)

Sign a written sublease agreement

Once you choose the best candidate, you must get your sublet agreement in writing. You can either make one yourself, download a free template online or purchase a more professionally-constructed document formatted specifically for your state.

Make sure the following items are included:

  • Length of lease. Include the amount of time your tenant will be living in your rental in your agreement. Also include the exact date he or she will be moving in and the date he or she will need to move out.


  • Security deposit. If anything becomes damaged while you are not living in the apartment, your landlord will hold you responsible. If your tenant puts a hole in the wall or breaks a window, you can kiss your security deposit good-bye. Request a security deposit from your subletter to cover the costs of any possible damage to your rental so your deposit is returned in full.


  • Rent payment. The amount of rent your tenant must pay each month, the date it must be paid and the method of payment should all be clearly illustrated in the lease.


  • Eviction. Depending on the terms of your lease and the laws in your state, your rights may override your tenant’s. This meaning you may have authorization to evict him or her for failure to comply with the lease or pay rent. Make sure the procedures and causes for eviction are clearly outlined in the lease and the subletter understands all of the conditions.


  • Contact information. Provide your phone number and address (especially if your tenant will be mailing the rent) as well as the contact information for the landlord and/or property manager. Any other pertinent numbers, such as the superintendent or emergency maintenance, should be included as well.

Get permission from the landlord

Most leases contain clauses prohibiting sublets without the landlord's approval. Thoroughly read your lease to determine your guidelines, consult your landlord and request his or her written approval to sublet your apartment. Under most state laws, rental properties are required to allow you to sublet, regardless of the terms of your lease. Exceptions may include public housing, rent-controlled properties, and limited-profit housing.

Your written request, sent via certified mail, should include the following:

  • Length of sublet (you may not exceed two years)


  • The name and address of the potential tenant


  • Your reason for the sublet


  • Your address while you will be subletting


  • A copy of your sublet agreement


  • A separate letter with you and your subtenant attesting that the sublease is a true copy. It must be signed and notarized.

Your landlord is expected to respond within 30 days with his or consent or reasons for refusal. If he or she does not respond, this can be legally assumed as consent. If you feel that he or she refuses your request for subletting unreasonably, you may be legally protected to sublet anyway. Consult an attorney before proceeding.

Nicole La Capria  Posted by Nicole La Capria on January 6, 2014

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