To sublease is to rent out space or property that one has leased from the main landlord. The tenant acts as the landlord to the sublessee. Subleasing sometimes becomes necessary during a lease term. For example, if a tenant/sublessor has to relocate due to work commitments, yet they still have a considerable amount of time left in their lease. Subtenants can rent apartments or any other residential property through a sublease.
A residential sublease agreement is usually applied under the following scenarios;
- When a tenant wishes to end an existing residential lease, the landlord has declined their request, prompting them to sublet the space until the initial lease’s initial expiration date.
- When a tenant wishes to retain the tenancy of residential property while renting out an extra room to a sublessee.
Residential Sublease Agreement
A residential sublease agreement can be used by tenants who have a significant amount of time left on their lease, yet they want to vacate the property and live somewhere else for the remaining lease term. This way, they do not have to pay two rents as the subtenant raises the money to cover rent for the sublet space.
A residential sublease agreement is a document between the current tenant (sublessor) of a space or property and a new tenant/sublessee.
Through a residential sublease agreement, tenants are allowed to re-rent the space they are currently renting. One should, however, check if subleasing is allowed by the initial agreement. The original lease agreement births a residential sublease agreement. Through the sublease agreement, the rules and obligations applicable to the sublease are outlined. As a result, the residential sublease agreement is very similar to the original lease, the only difference being that the main landlord is not involved. However, the landlord should be informed of the intent.
It should be noted that even with a sublease, the original lease remains in effect, and the landlord expects the rent as agreed, and it is the responsibility of the tenant to ensure this is realized. The tenant or sublessor is also responsible for any damages or breach of the initial contract within the property. The sublease term cannot go past the end date of the original lease.
Types of a sublease agreement
There are two types of sublease agreements available to cater to the different scenarios where subleasing is an option. They include;
- Standard version – It is a sublease agreement meant for the general subleasing of residential apartments or property.
- College/ University version – It is a sublease agreement typically designed to fit the needs of college and university students who wish to sublet. Most university or college students will have standard living space requirements, and a college/university version caters to these accordingly.
A residential sublease can alternatively be referred to as;
- Sublease Contract
- Sublease Rental Agreement
- Sublease Form
Properties that can be sublet
Subleasing applies to different types of residential properties. As long as subletting is permitted by the initial agreement and the landlord approves, a tenant of the following property types can sublet.
- Mobile home
- Any other
The Process of Subleasing
The subletting process should be carefully carried out to ensure that the terms and conditions of the initial lease are observed. The steps below can be adapted to have a successful subletting process.
Determine if subleasing is permitted
When subletting, the first step should be to consult the “master” or initial lease to confirm if subleasing is permitted. The last thing a sublessor would want is to be in breach of the original lease agreement. The initial lease agreement should be carefully reviewed. The following two scenarios are probable.
The agreement allows subleasing (or does not mention it)
The first probability is the agreement permits subleasing. If this is the case, all the tenants must inform the landlord of their intention to sublease to get their approval. Vital information about the new tenant should be provided, and usually, the landlord would ask to meet with the sublessee as a formality. If the “master” agreement does not reference it, it most likely that subleasing is allowed with the landlord’s permission. Most States permit subleasing even if it was not mentioned in the original lease.
The agreement prohibits subleasing
If the original lease agreement states that subleasing is not permitted, the tenant must oblige. However, this should not prohibit the tenant from reaching out to the landlord and explaining the situation at hand, which might eventually influence their stand. Landlords often carry out the thorough background, credit, and criminal checks before approving a rental applicant. Since the landlord is not involved in a sublease, it is hard to prove the worthiness of a subtenant and hence their hesitation in approving subletting.
With that in mind, a tenant can reassure them by stating that due diligence will be followed when seeking a subtenant. A draft of the residential sublease agreement can also be sent to the landlord to confirm that it includes all the necessary provisions. Thirdly, sublessors can confirm that they are aware of their responsibility as per the initial agreement before, during, and after the sublease.
Find a tenant
Once the landlord has approved, sublessors can now commence their search for potential subtenants. Care and caution should be observed at this stage as settling on a “wrong,” or unsuitable subtenant can be costly to the sublandlord. The least stressful way of getting a subtenant is by seeking a subtenant that one knows personally, like a family member or friend. Other ways of reaching out to potential subtenants include;
The most common way to search for subtenants is online. There are platforms/websites where a sublessor can list the property. An example of such a platform is Craigslist. Even though not as efficient, one can find a fit subtenant after screening their applicant. Alternatively, one can opt to use other websites primarily focused on subleasing and have filters to sort applications to protect sublessors by avoiding inferior quality applications.
College / university boards
Students are very promising subtenants. One can create flyers and post them in cafeterias, dorms, standard rooms, and popular social places around the campus to advertise. The flyer should have a picture of the premises, details of the monthly rental rates, and contact information. Students looking for places to lease can then know the space’s availability.
The other way to advertise the premises is through social media such as Facebook. The sublessor creates a descriptive post of the property, including pictures, rent amount, and location for the potential subtenants to review. An advantage of using social media is one can do a quick review of the applicant’s profile to know who the applicant is and if they would be a fit subtenant.
It is expected that prospective subtenants will reach out through phone calls, and it is, therefore, essential the sublessor is as available as possible. This is mainly for spaces priced below market rates to ensure the property gets rented as fast as possible. To facilitate time-saving when subletting through social media, tenants can vet potential subtenants over the phone by confirming if;
- The sublessee intends to occupy the property with immediate effect
- The subtenant is currently employed
- The subtenant has the financial ability to pay the quoted rent amount
- They own a pet where there is a pet policy on the property
Once the subtenant is approved through the phone, both parties should schedule a time to visit the property to determine the space meets the subtenant’s needs. It is crucial to note that social media is not a replacement for standard screening procedures.
Screen the sublessee
Before agreeing to rent the property, it is recommended that the tenant should request the subtenant to submit their credentials through a rental application and ask for a fee of about $25 to $50 to check if they qualify for the lease. Screening can be done by conducting credit and background checks, employment verification, and previous landlord references.
Write the sublease agreement
Once a prospective subtenant has been identified, the next step should be to prepare the sublease agreement. Writing a residential sublease agreement can be done by following the steps below.
- Describe the Premises: The first item to include in the residential sublease agreement is a description of the premises. The property is described by stating its address which informs potential applicants of its location and any other relevant details about the property such as furnishing, number of bedrooms, etc.
- Identify the Tenant and Subtenant: After describing the property, the involved parties, i.e., the sublessor and subtenant, should be identified by indicating the complete official names and mailing addresses. The subtenant should give their current address. The names should appear as they do in official documents.
- Outline the length of the Sublease term: The next step should be to determine how long the sublease is expected to last, otherwise known as the sublease term. The sublease term does not necessarily have to be equal to the length of the “master” lease term. More preferably, it should be on a month-to-month basis or for a fixed term.
- Outline the critical details of the Original Lease: Once the term has been established, the subtenant should be informed of pertinent details about the original lease. Once informed they a statement of acceptance of the terms and conditions of the original lease is written.
- Determine the Rent Amount: The sublessor and the subtenant should agree on the acceptable rent amount. The amount should be paid to the sublessor unless otherwise stated. It is vital to note that the sublessor should not charge more than the rental rate agreed on in the initial agreement; it is considered illegal in most States.
The amount should be specified and the monthly due date. In this section, the residential sublease agreement should declare how late payment should be dealt with. Remember, the sublessor is liable for rent and damages according to the “master” lease, and they should use the sublease agreement as an opportunity to protect themselves.
- Payment: Payments will need to be specified in writing. This includes the amount, method of payment, and the beneficiary. (This refers to whether the payment goes through you, or directly to your landlord or rental company.)
- Intervals of Payment: The sublease agreement will need to specify when payments are to be made. This is a simple statement to draft and can be something along the lines of “The subtenant shall pay the monthly rent of $1,000 directly to the landlord (or to the tenant) on the first of each month.“
- Method of Payment: Bank transfers, wire transfers, electronic deposits, and mail-in checks are all viable options. Again, this will need to be specified in writing.
- Late Payment: Consequences in the instance that payment is late, or has not been made altogether. The sublease agreement should specify any repercussions (typically, these are fines) if payments are late, or haven’t been made at all. Alternatives include contracting a collections agency if payments are still pending, and the subtenant isn’t responding.
- Receipts and Documentation: Once the method of payment have been agreed upon, and the tenant will have to provide the subtenant with receipts as proof of payment. The sublease agreement should state how the tenant plans to do so.
- Security Deposits: This varies greatly from state to state. This part of the sublease agreement should specify how much the subtenant is required to pay as a security deposit (if applicable) and when it will be returned to them, contingent on their behavior on the premises. Many states, like California, require this amount to be deposited back to the tenant or subtenant within 21 days of vacating the property.
- Other common provisions: Other provisions that have not already been mentioned in the residential sublease agreement but apply to the sublease should be included. These include house or building policies. These provisions include;
- Landlord approval – If the landlord has to approve a sublease, there should be a section that shows the landlord is aware of the sublease.
- Utilities – The agreement should declare if utilities are being provided and who pays for the utilities.
- Furnishings – Some premises come with furnishing as a package; if this is the case, it should appear in the sublease agreement. The furnishing can be stated as an itemized list.
- Alterations – Ordinarily, subtenants are not allowed to make any modifications or alterations to the premises. However, if it is permitted, the agreement should have a provision for that.
- Policies – Applicable house and property policies should be declared in a residential sublease agreement. Such policies include smoking, pets, noise, and any other policy.
Once these particulars are listed out in the sublease agreement, the tenant will then have to get the subtenant to verify the condition of the property to avoid any liability further down the line. This generally entails creating a list of things in the house, such as walls, curtains, toilets, utilities, and the like, and doing a walk-through with the subtenant to confirm that they are in good condition. Additionally, the terms of the original lease agreement still apply, so subtenants will need to be briefed on things like parking spaces, pet policies, and prohibited practices, such as the use of drugs or smoking on the premises. Once this is done, they should sign and verify that each area of the premises is in good condition.
Sign the agreement
Once the sublessor and the subtenant agree on the terms and conditions of the sublease, the residential sublease agreement should be signed to be valid and legally binding. The parties should provide their names and signatures at the bottom. The signing date should also be indicated. Once signed, the sublessee is solely responsible for rent payment, property damage, and other contractual obligations. The expiration date (if any) can be stated at this point. However, it should not be too far from the end date of the original lease.
Addendums and disclosures
To improve the efficiency of the sublease agreement, the agreement can have the following inclusions.
- Disclosures – Most states have set out disclosures that tenants are advised to look out for before signing a lease. In most cases, these disclosures are already provided in the initial lease.
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure – This disclosure is required for buildings built or that have not had renovations since 1978.
- Original lease – A copy of the “master” lease should be attached to the sublease agreement.
Sublease Agreement Sample
Once all of the aforementioned particulars are in order, you can begin drafting the sublease agreement. To help you out, we’ve created a template that you can follow, which can be found below;
This document entails the terms, conditions, and particulars of the sublease agreement for the property located at __________________________, scheduled to begin on and follow through until between the following parties;
Upon signing and providing this document, the subtenant hereby agrees to adhere to the following terms and conditions:
(a) The subtenant will make a monthly payment of __________________________, which is to be made out to on the first of each month. (This can be modified to whatever is agreed upon between the tenant and subtenant.)
(b) The subtenant is obliged to make the payment through (Typically, bank transfers, mail-in checks, and wire transfers are acceptable methods. In the case of a mail-in check, be sure to add a physical mailing address to which payment should be sent.)
(c) Upon payment, the subtenant is entitled to receive a receipt as proof of payment (you may specify the means, i.e., physical or digital) within of payment.
(d) In the instance that payment is late, the subtenant will be subject to an additional charge of __________________________ . The exception to this would only be with written pre-approval from the tenant.
(e) In the instance that the subtenant continues to delay payment(s) or is delinquent for more than __________________________ , the tenant will work towards initiating the following procedures;
(f) The subtenant hereby assumes responsibility for the payment of any, and all utility bills pertinent to the property at (In the case that you have additional roommates, you will need to list out how utilities are divided and that the same arrangement will continue to be in place.)
II. Security Deposit
(a) The subtenant will pay the amount of __________________________, due to function as a security deposit in the case of damages incurred during the subtenant’s stay. This amount will need to be paid to by the date on which the sublease is scheduled to start.
(b) When the sublease agreement has run its course and has concluded, the tenant will inspect the property for damages and deduct any appropriate charges from the security deposit with written explanations and receipts provided to the subtenant within 21 days from the date on which the sublease ends, or the subtenant chooses to move out.
III. Walk-through Conditions
Below is a checklist with accurate descriptions of the state in which each room existed on the date on which the sublease agreement is scheduled to commence;
ROOM CONDITION CONDITION
(Start of lease__________________________) (End of lease__________________________)
Exterior (This typically includes things like parking spots and balconies.
Other (Any particulars that need to be specified may be listed here.)
IV. Rules of the premises
The subtenant hereby agrees to adhere to the following rules whilst occupying the premises from the start of the lease to the end of the lease.
(a) The subtenant will have access to use the following facilities; (Specify things like a gym, pool, etc. if applicable. Make sure to specify what facilities the subtenant will not have access to as well.)
(b) The subtenant will promptly return keys and/or keycards to the upon the termination of the sublease agreement.
(c) The subtenant will be subject to the following policies. Failure to abide by these policies may result in a forfeit of a part of, or the entirety of, the security deposit and/or termination of the sublease agreement altogether.
V. Terms of the sublease agreement
The subtenant is hereby obliged to adhere to the terms, conditions, and policies of the original leasing agreement, which, for reference, is attached below.
This document is hereby legally binding upon signature by the subtenant and receipt by the tenant. Upon receipt, the tenant will sign and provide a copy of this document via the Additional copies will also be submitted to the landlord or rental company. The subtenant may commence occupancy of the premises only after, and not before, both parties have agreed to the terms and conditions laid out in this document.
Templates by State
Sublease State Laws
In some states, state laws are used to govern the preparation and implementation of a sublease agreement. However, when the State does not govern subleasing, the initial lease and the landlord should be consulted. The States that have subleasing laws include;
Alaska (§ 34.03.060) – Tenants need written approval from the landlord for subleasing. If the State declares subleasing is not permitted, the only alternative is to beg the landlord for permission. If subleasing is allowed, the tenant must present one or more potential subtenants to the landlord. The applicants should provide the landlord with a written application showing the following;
- Name, age, and current mailing address
- Marital status
- Current occupation of the subtenant and the name and address of employer
- The number of additional occupants the subtenant expects to live with (if any)
- At least two credit references or dependable people can ascertain the subtenant’s financial ability to pay rent.
- The name and address of former landlords the subtenant has been associated with in the last three years.
The law states that a landlord can revoke subleasing applicants for the following reasons.
- Insufficient credit/financial responsibility
- Too many occupants
- Minor occupants – too young (below 18 years)
- Lack of commitment to the original lease by the subtenant
- Ownership of pets
- If subtenants wish to conduct business on the premises
- Poor review(s) from the previous landlord(s)
Arkansas ( AR Attorney General “Landlord and Tenant Rights”) – Tenants can sublease as long as the landlord has given the go-ahead. The landlord should determine how much rent to be charged in the sublease.
California (§§ 1995.010 to 1995.340) – Tenants can sublet if the landlord allows it and if the original lease has not referenced it. Also, landlords have the right to revoke subleasing requests in a written document. If a tenant sublets a space with the landlord’s approval but the initial lease does not permit it, the landlord can legally obtain all or a percentage of the sublease rent.
Colorado (Colorado Landlord and Tenant Rights Handbook.pdf) – Tenants can sublet if the landlord allowed it on the original lease or was not explicitly referenced. Landlords can rightfully disapprove of subleasing in the lease. However, they cannot unreasonably deny subletting if it was not mentioned in the initial lease.
Delaware (§ 5508) – Tenants can sublease if the initial lease and/or the landlord allow it. Landlords cannot unreasonably deny subleasing. Disapproval should be backed by proof.
Georgia (Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook.pdf) – The initial lease dictates whether or not a tenant can sublet. The landlord’s approval should, either way, be sought.
Hawaii (§ 521-37) – Tenants can sublease without direct approval from the landlord as long as the signed lease agreement does not state that they should be consulted.
Idaho (Idaho Landlord and Tenant Guidelines.pdf) – tenants can sublet if at all the signed residential sublease agreement does not firmly prohibit it. It is recommended that the landlord’s approval is sort after regardless of what was stated in the lease.
Kansas (§ 58-2511) – Tenants leasing property for a term of fewer than two years or a month-to-month basis are required to obtain written approval from the landlord before subletting. It can be assumed that written approval is not required for lease terms longer than two years unless the lease directs it.
Kentucky (§ 383.180) – Tenants should obtain written approval before subleasing. If the landlord disapproves, the landlord can lawfully evict the tenant after issuing a ten-day notice.
Louisiana (CC 2713) – Tenants are allowed to sublease unless prohibited by the initial lease.
Maine (§ 2-1303) – Subleasing cannot be unreasonably denied. However, the landlord should be notified of the tenant’s intention to sublease, and the initial lease should be consulted.
Michigan (MI) (A Practical Guide for Tenants and Landlords (MI Legislature).pdf) – If the original lease does not mention subleasing, tenants are legally allowed to sublet without the landlord’s approval. However, in most cases, tenants are expected to seek approval from the landlord.
Minnesota (Minnesota Attorney General “Landlords and Tenants: Rights and Responsibilities”) – Tenants can sublease if the lease does not prohibit it. Written approval from the landlord is, however, recommended.
Missouri (Missouri Attorney General: Landlord-Tenant Law.pdf) – Tenants must seek permission from the landlord before subleasing. Should tenants sublet without the landlord’s approval, they should be charged double the rent as a consequence.
Montana (§ 70-24-305) – Tenants require written consent from the landlord before subleasing.
Nevada (NRS 40.2514) – The signed lease agreement determines if a tenant can sublease or not. Tenants that sublet without the landlord’s approval are subject to eviction. Seeking approval is highly recommended.
New Jersey (Lease Information Bulletin (NJ Dept. of Community Affairs).pdf) – Tenants can sublet if at all the lease does not prohibit it. It is recommended that tenants seek the landlord’s approval.
New York (§ 226-B) – Tenants require written consent from the landlord before subletting unless the lease states that subleasing is allowed without permission. If there is proof that the landlord unreasonably denies subleasing, they are to award the tenant an option to move out with a thirty days’ notice. Before subleasing, tenants should notify the landlord of their intentions to sublease, which can be done through certified mail a notice containing the following;
- The sublease term
- Name of the subtenant
- The subtenant’s home and business addresses
- The address of the tenant’s residing place during the sublease term
- Written consent from the co-tenant/guarantor of the lease
- A copy of the sublease agreement and a copy of the original lease attached
Oregon (§ 90.555) – For subleases with a term longer than three days and approved by the landlord, the tenant, subtenant, and landlord are required to prepare a written agreement outlining the rights and obligations of the three involved parties. The agreements should have provisions that allow the sublessee to pay the rent directly to the landlord, State how other fees such as utilities are to be billed, and section stating that the sublessee will enjoy the same rights sublessor.
South Carolina (§ 27-35-60) – Subleases are deemed “null” if at all the landlord did not issue a written consent for subleasing.
South Dakota (§ 43-32-17) – Tenants are required to obtain approval from the landlord before subleasing.
Texas (§ 91.005) – Permission to sublet can and should be obtained from the landlord or the property manager.
Virginia (§ 55.1-1204(F)) – Subleasing is allowed if the original lease does not prohibit it. If the initial lease states that the landlord can approve or disapprove the sublease, the landlord should answer within ten days after receiving the request. If no answer is given within ten days, silence can be taken as approval, and the tenant can sublet.
The states that do have laws in place that govern subleasing include;
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions
Sublease agreements occur when a tenant wishes to move out of a property but does not want to break his/her lease. As a result, the tenant finds a replacement to occupy the premises, i.e., the subtenant, who then takes up the remainder of the lease.
Typically, subleases cannot be broken without paying a hefty fee. In the instance that a sublease has been broken prematurely, both the tenant and subtenant may be liable to the landlord and may be forced to pay a certain amount in fines and additional fees. General convention dictates that an extra month’s rent will be collected upon premature termination of a lease agreement.
If a subtenant has misused the property or has not adhered to the terms of the sublease agreement, they may be evicted by the landlord. Additionally, some landlords may not allow subleasing, to begin with. In such cases, the subtenant may be legally evicted by the landlord without the need for any notice and/or reason(s).
No. If due diligence is followed and the landlord permits it, subletting is legal under the law. Some states have laws in place to guide subleasing, and as a result, tenants should familiarize themselves with these laws to ensure they are not in violation. Following the set, laws are essential for if the law is not followed when subletting, some States legally allow the landlord to sue, evict or impose penalties if they did not permit subletting.