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How to sublet a property

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Draw up a formal agreement to avoid problems down the line.

If you want a new roommate or someone to take over your rental while you’re gone for a few months, a subtenant can help bring in extra cash. But you’ll still be responsible for paying rent, even if your tenant doesn’t pay you.

What is subletting?

Subletting is when a tenant leases out a room in a rental property to someone else who is not listed on the lease. Alternatively, as an existing tenant, you also have the option to rent out the entire property to someone else for a set period of time within your fixed-term lease.

Under a subletting arrangement, that third party is known as a subtenant and has the same rights and responsibilities as other tenants. You would act as the subtenant’s landlord and be responsible for their behavior and any loss or damage they cause.

Am I allowed to sublet my apartment?

Whether or not you’re allowed to sublet depends on your lease. Most leases will have a clause that requires you to get your landlord’s written consent before subletting all or part of the apartment.

If your lease doesn’t mention anything about subletting, you’re free to sublet your apartment.

If your lease specifically prohibits subletting, you won’t be able to get a subtenant for the property.

If your lease requires you to ask your landlord for written consent before subletting, make sure you give them plenty of notice — at least a month, in most cases.

Submit a letter to your landlord showing that your subtenant:

  • Has the financial capacity to pay the rent.
  • Is of good character. Get references from the subtenant’s current or former landlord to show this.

Can my landlord refuse to consent to a subtenant?

Yes, if a landlord feels that a subtenant might damage their property, not pay rent or otherwise be a bad tenant, they can refuse. Landlords will commonly refuse subletting requests if:

  • The number of proposed occupants for the rental property will exceed the number allowed by the tenancy agreement or local planning laws
  • The landlord thinks the premises would become overcrowded as a result of the subletting arrangement
  • The proposed subtenant has a history of being a bad tenant or no rental history at all

How to sublet your apartment

If you have a lease that allows subletting with your landlord’s consent, you’ll need to:

  1. Find a subtenant. It’s your responsibility to find a suitable subtenant for your rental property.
  2. Negotiate rent and utilities. If your subtenant isn’t paying the full cost of your rent, you’ll need to pay the difference. You’ll also want to decide ahead of time who is responsible for the cost of utilities.
  3. Collect a deposit. If your landlord requires an additional security deposit, or if you want to collect a security deposit to cover any costs you’ll be responsible for if your subtenant damages the apartment, you’ll need to do that before they move in.
  4. Sign a contract. To prevent any problems, write up a sublease agreement for your subtenant. This will outline the rights and responsibilities of all parties if any disputes arise. You can find sample sublease agreements online, but they can be complicated and confusing so it’s recommended you seek legal advice to help you draw one up.
  5. Collect the rent. You’ll be responsible for collecting rent from your subtenant and paying your landlord.
  6. Take responsibility. When you sublet part of your property to another person, you’ll be responsible for acting as their landlord. That means that if they’re late on rent or damage the property, you’re responsible.

Pros and cons of subletting

Pros

  • Help with the rent. Subletting part of your rental premises means you can access some extra financial assistance to help pay the rent.
  • Cover costs when you’re not there. If you’re heading away for a few months, you could sublet your room or apartment to cover rental costs while you’re away.
  • Extra security with the right subtenant. The physical presence of an additional person in a home can provide extra security or a deterrent to burglars if it would otherwise be unoccupied for an extended period of time.

Cons

  • Extra responsibility. When you sublet, you must assume a range of extra obligations and become responsible for the actions of your subtenant.
  • Potential security risk. If subletting to someone you don’t know all that well, ask for character references could to help prevent problems down the line.

How is subletting different from transferring your lease?

Transferring is when you allow another person to take over your lease agreement. This option is suitable if you’re on a fixed-term lease but you need to move out of the property before the lease ends.

You will need to get written permission from your landlord to transfer your lease, and they’ll also need to agree to accept the person you have proposed to take over your lease. If accepted by the landlord, the new person takes over your lease agreement and must abide by the conditions of the lease. You will no longer be responsible for the lease.

Watch-outs of subletting

There are several factors you will need to consider when setting up and negotiating a sublease, including:

  • The term. The term of a sublease cannot be longer than the term of your apartment lease.
  • The use of facilities. You will need to specify which facilities the subtenant will and will not be able to access, such as bathrooms, kitchens and storage space.
  • Parking arrangements. Will the subtenant be allocated a certain number of spaces in the parking lot?
  • Rent. You will also need to work out reasonable rent to charge the subtenant, factoring in utilities.

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Bottom line

If you need a new roommate or you’re planning on heading out of town for a while, a sublease agreement can help you save on rent. But keep in mind that your renters insurance won’t cover your subtenant, and your landlord may require them to get renters insurance before moving in.

Frequently asked questions about subletting

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