What Is Subletting and How to Do it Right

Subletting is when an existing tenant lets part or all of a rented property to another person, who is known as a sub tenant. This means that the subtenant has exclusive use of the property. Subletting can seem like a confusing process, but this article will inform you on how to do it and help things go smoothly.

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For Rent

For Rent sign. Credit: By Mark Moz on Flickr creative commons

The Rules 

In most cases, the tenant needs permission from their landlord before subletting. The landlord can take legal action against the tenant if subletting is carried out without permission. Subletting unlawfully includes if the tenant sublets even though it is not allowed or, despite subletting being allowed under the tenancy agreement, permission from the landlord is not obtained. Doing either of these gives the landlord grounds to evict the tenant.


Finding Someone 

After determining that subletting is allowed by your landlord, deciding who to sublet your apartment to is the next step. Although once they sign the sublease the subtenant is completely responsible for paying bills, damages, etc., it is important to find someone trustworthy. It is easy to advertise your sublet online, but make sure you meet or at least talk with the person so that you know they are responsible.


Doing it Right

You need to follow certain procedures if you have the right to sublet because not following the steps could lead to eviction. Use a certified mail return receipt requested to send a letter to the landlord asking for permission to sublet. You should keep copies of all correspondence with the landlord in a safe place. You must include the following information in the letter:

  1. The start and end dates of the sublet. Generally, it is better to make it one to two years, or at least until the end of the existing lease.
  2. The proposed subtenant’s name.
  3. The permanent home and business address of the proposed subtenant.
  4. The reason for subletting (which could be school attendance, work transfer, moving to a different area, family crisis, etc.). An intent to return must be reflected in the reason you give.
  5. The written consent of the guarantor of your lease.
  6. Your new address for the term of the sublet.
  7. A copy of the proposed sublease. You can also ask your landlord if they have a general sublease form they use for all sublets.
  8. A separate letter in which both you and the proposed subtenant state that the sublease attached is accurate and the statement must be signed and notarized.

Within 10 days after you have sent your initial request by mail, your landlord can ask for additional information so as to determine whether or not to reject your request. Some of the things the landlord could ask for are the resources and rental history of the proposed subtenant. Within 30 days of mailing the additional information, a notice of consent or reasons for refusal to the sublet must be sent by the landlord to you.


Sublease Agreement

Signature of sublease agreement. Credit: By EMCDDA on Flickr creative commons


Rejection by the Landlord

In most states, the landlord cannot unreasonably reject subletting. He can do so under circumstances such as the proposed subtenant not having a good credit history, or not being employed. If rejected, make sure to get the detailed reasoning for why in order to pick a better-proposed subtenant next time.

Related: Getting Letters of Recommendation from Previous Landlords 



Sometimes, even if you have not subleased your apartment, your landlord might think you have. For example, if a relative or friend comes to live with you temporarily, and you are not charging rent, this is not considered subletting. Therefore, you should explain the situation to your landlord.

Subletting gives you the freedom to move without paying double rent or breaking your rental agreement, so keeping it in mind as an option is important!


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