A sublease agreement is a real estate contract for the renting of an entire apartment or bedroom between a tenant and sub-tenant. In most scenarios, the tenant will have to check their original lease to verify that subletting is allowed or else they will have to obtain written consent from the landlord. If the tenant has roommates, it is not required although recommended that he or she discusses with others living on the property their intention to sublet their bedroom.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Table of Contents
- What is a Sublease?
- Sublease Agreement: Generic Template
- Sublease Agreement: By State
- How to Sublet Residential Property
- Liability to Original Tenant
- Subletting vs Reletting
- How to Write a Sublease
The process of subletting property takes approximately two (2) weeks from listing the premises on the internet, verifying the subtenant’s credentials, and moving out. In between there can be hiccups such as obtaining the landlord’s permission to sublet the property or having roommates (if any) agree to the new person.
In most leases, the tenant is not allowed to sublet the property. Therefore, the tenant will need to obtain written permission which is required to be signed by the landlord.
The landlord has the option to:
- Refuse – Landlord refuses to allow the tenant to sublet the property. Tenant will be obligated to pay rent until the end of the term.
- Permit Subletting – Landlord authorizes the tenant to allow them to rent the property to a subtenant.
- Relet the Property – Tenant finds a new tenant and the landlord makes a new agreement with them. In this case, the tenant’s original lease would be canceled.
Once the tenant has permission to sublet the premises they may begin the necessary steps to list the property.
Step 2 – Gathering Property Information
In order to make the proper profiles online, the tenant should prepare the following:
Asking Rent ($) – The tenant, more than anyone, should know the market in their area. There is no “right” answer to how much the tenant should ask but as a general guide should ask the exact amount the tenant was paying to the landlord. If the tenant is desperate, they may request less and make up the difference on their own every month.
📷Photos – The tenant will need to take some high-quality photos and get ready to make a profile describing the premises to interested parties. The general rule is to take two (2) photos per room. Make sure, even if it is just a bedroom being sublet, that the tenant take pictures of the all common areas, bathroom(s), and kitchen.
Property Information – Gather any and all details about the premises to give as much information as possible to a possible subtenant. In addition to the rent, the responsibilities of the utilities and services, any roommate agreement (including any cleaning or quiet times), describe the neighborhood and the types of neighbors you have, etc.
In order to find a tenant as fast as possible, it is best to use the online route. Newspaper listings have pretty much been extinct for a while now and it is highly recommended to use the following resources:
Airbnb – Allows you to screen tenants based on previous landlords experience with the individual. This is mainly for short-term sublets. Requires photo identification and the sign-up process can take up to 48 hours to verify credentials. Free to list your property and will be charged 3% when a subtenant makes a payment.
Craigslist – Easy setup and depending on the area you’re located will cost approximately $15 to list. Your posting will be published immediately after posting so make sure, in order to get your money’s worth, to post between 7pm to 9pm during high traffic hours.
Sublet.com – Generic site that is widely used but hard to navigate. But if you are desperate then it’s best to make use of all means necessary.
After making the listing it’s important to field all incoming emails and phone calls to vent each individual to see the real interest they have in the property.
Step 4 – Showing the Property
At this time the tenant will have to field all individuals who have interest in the space. If you have roommates, it would be best to schedule a time that is convenient for them which is usually during the normal hours when most of them are at work.
If the tenant came from Airbnb then there is no need to require a credit or background check. Although, if it came from any other resource it is highly recommended that a check of the person’s credit and background be conducted after receiving a completed Rental Application. It also should be required that the applicant pay a fee between $35 to $75 to show their true interest in the property as well as reimburse the tenant for conducting the credit and background verifications.
Best Screening Services
- RentPrep.com – $18.95 for background check + $9.95 for a credit report.
- MySmartMove.com – $25 for background check + $10 for credit report.
Sex Offender Search
- National Registry – Lookup the applicant to see if they’re listed.
Verify Employment / Income
- Download the Employment Verification Form (Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word (.docx)) and use if the applicant’s credit is not satisfactory although their income qualifies for the property. This will be required to be completed by the applicant’s employer or manager.
It is highly recommended that the tenant conduct a thorough credit and background check on the applicant. If the subtenant should fail to pay rent, cause damage to the premises, or break the original lease in any other way the original tenant will be liable.
Step 6 – Signing the SubLease
A time should be scheduled between the parties, tenant and subtenant, to meet in order to authorize the agreement. In comparison to other leases, a sublease is the least formal and typically, although required, the same State and federal required disclosure forms should be attached and given to the subtenant.
Required by Subtenant
- Security Deposit – Make sure to collect at least one (1) month’s rent (View State Maximums).
- First (1st) Month’s Rent – Required to be paid at the sublease signing.
- Other Fees – If there are any other fees required in the sublease (e.g. parking, trash, etc.) then the first (1st) month’s payment is due at the sublease authorization.
Required by Original Tenant
- Give access to the premises (keys).
It may be a good idea to wait until the checks have cleared before giving access to the premises (if move-in is after the sublease signing).
Other Forms / Disclosures
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure – Required to be attached to the sublease if the property was built prior to 1978.
Move-in Checklist – Recommended being filled-in before tenancy to mark any damage that currently exists on the premises.
Step 7 – Tenant Moving Out / Subtenant Moving In
At this time the subtenant will be allowed to move into the premises. Therefore, the original tenant will be required to move-out. Although, the original tenant will remain involved in the tenancy until the expiration of the original lease as he or she will still be required to pay the landlord if the subtenant does not pay rent.
There is a tremendous amount of liability for the original tenant in a sublet situation. The tenant may think that once they have found a subtenant that they can simply move-out and be held harmless, but this is not the case.
- Non-Payment of Rent
If the subtenant decides not to pay rent for the current month, or is late, the tenant will be liable. Therefore, if the tenant has moved-out and is paying rent elsewhere they will be forced to cover their previous tenancy as well.
- Damage to the Premises
At the end of the sublet period, any damage found or repairs needed to get the premises back to its original condition will be the liability of the tenant. Therefore, it is recommended to have a security deposit collected at the beginning of the lease term as well as complete a Move-In Checklist to alleviate any disagreements in who created the damage.
Any eviction, or ‘Forcible Entry’ or ‘Unlawful Detainer’, will be the responsibility of the tenant. This means that if the subtenant does not pay rent and/or refuses to leave the premises the tenant will have to go down the legal process of eviction. The average eviction takes between 30 to 60 days to complete and involves filing a complaint and summons in the respective court jurisdiction where the property is located.
The act of a tenant re-renting the property to someone else, known as the “subtenant”. The tenant remains liable to the original lease signed between themselves and the landlord.
The act of a landlord renting the property to a new tenant and creating a new lease while terminating the agreement with the former tenant.
Section 1 – The Tenant and Subtenant;
Section 2 – Property address and any additional description;
Section 3 – Start date;
Section 4 – End date;
Section 5 – Monthly rent and instructions on where and how it is to be paid;
Section 8 – Security deposit amount and minus any cleaning or fees at the end of the lease;
Section 18 – Execution area;