Subletting a room can be a good idea if you need to leave that location for some reason but don’t want to lose the lease on your apartment, condo or house. You may need to relocate for work, take a summer vacation, or travel for a long period of time ( for work or pleasure). Basically, subleasing – also known as subletting – can help fill a financial gap that could cause an issue.
Know Local Subleasing Laws
Some states have specific subleasing laws, which vary greatly. It's always a good idea to check local laws before arranging a sublet. If your state doesn't have specific subleasing laws, such as Alabama, Ohio and Washington, the rules for subletting are determined by the original lease agreement terms. Condo or townhome complexes often have their own rules, even if you own the space.
In Virginia, if the main tenant wants to sublet, he has to send a request in writing to the landlord. The landlord then has 10 days to approve or decline the main tenant's request. If no reply is given by the landlord within 10 days, the main tenant will be allowed to sublet according to Virginia sublet laws.
In many states, including Arkansas, California and Texas, the primary tenant has to get the landlord's permission to sublet. In other states, even if the lease agreement expressly allows subletting, the tenant must have the landlord's permission to sublet.
Check the Original Lease
The first thing to do before subleasing a room is to check the original lease to make sure it’s actually permitted. If it’s expressly prohibited, you may want to talk to the landlord to get permission to go ahead with the sublet. Every situation is different, and some landlords may require the permanent tenant to make an application in writing before he can sublease his space.
Subleases have legal implications. A sublease is a completely new legal relationship between the original tenant and the subtenant, separate from the relationship between the original tenant and the landlord. When a sublease is in place, the original tenant is still bound by the terms of her lease. For instance, if the subtenant fails to pay rent for three months, the original tenant still must pay the landlord the full rental amount.
Read More: How to Evict a Subtenant
Advertise the Sublease
Classified ads are a good place to start when advertising a sublease. Websites like Craigslist.org and Subleasor.com reach a large audience of potential subtenants. Any ads should provide information about the number of rooms available, whether the rooms are furnished, if pets are permitted, and the estimated cost of utilities. Word of mouth is another good way to find a subtenant – often, friends, relatives or colleagues know someone who’s looking for a short-term rental.
If you're trying to sublet in a competitive area, you could offer an incentive to seal the deal, such as one-month free rent.
Screen Potential Subtenants
After shortlisting some suitable subtenants, the permanent tenant should meet them and show them the apartment. Check their references and ask questions about their rental history. Don't sublet your place to someone with poor rental history or no references. The next step is to accept a security deposit to cover any potential damages.
Finally, the chosen subtenant signs a sublease agreement that covers the rental amount, the rental period and any necessary conditions.
You may want to take photos of the space before subletting it and give the pictures to the landlord. This gives the permanent tenant some protection if the subtenant causes any damage. Both the subtenant and the landlord should have up-to-date contact information for the permanent tenant during her absence.
If the subtenant breaks the sublease, you will have to pay the rent until the original lease expires.
- LIS Virginia Law: Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
- University of California, Berkeley: Subletting
- New York City Bar: Subleases & Roommates
- Legal Beagle: Renting Out A Room in Your House: California's Tenant's Rights
- Legal Beagle: What to Do If a Roommate Breaks the Lease: California Tenant Law
- Legal Beagle: California Sublet Laws: Rules for Tenants & Subtenants
- Legal Beagle: How to Evict a Subtenant
- Legal Beagle: What Are My Rights As a Roommate?
- Legal Beagle: Rights for Roommates Not on a Lease
- Legal Beagle: Short-Term Rental Laws in California: Regulations, Airbnb & More
- Legal Beagle: Simple Lease Rental Agreement
- Legal Beagle: How to Send a Letter to a Tenant for Nonpayment of Rent
- Offer a good deal on rent, such as one month rent free, to beat the competition.
- If the subtenant breaks the sublease, you will have to pay the rent until the original lease expires.
Claire is a qualified lawyer and specialized in family law before becoming a full-time writer. She has written for many digital publications, including The Washington Post, Forbes, Vice and HealthCentral.