Simple Guide to Sublease Agreements

Fixed-term leases, compared with month-to-month, offer more stable rent prices and a more secure place to call home over the long term. Unless, that is, you find yourself needing to leave.

Subletting is the perfect way to avoid paying for an empty apartment without giving it up completely, while also helping someone else find a great apartment — yours!

Rentable can help you list your sublet, but we can also help guide you through your early questions. It sounds like lots of paperwork and intimidating procedure, but if you know what to expect, it’s simple and efficient. This guide will walk you through sublease agreements from start to finish: what subleasing means, how to fill your sublet, and what to put in your sublet contract.

What is a sublease?

Getting a new job could mean relocating to a new city in the middle of your lease, or taking an extended trip can mean months of an empty apartment. So what are your options? You can keep paying the bills, or you can sublet.

If you decide to sublet your apartment, you’re creating a new lease between you and who you decide to sublease to, without canceling the lease you have with your landlord.

Even with a sublease agreement, you, as the original tenant, are still ultimately responsible for unpaid rent and any damages the property incurs. Don’t sublease to someone you can’t trust.

Is subletting legal?

The legality of subleasing almost entirely depends on where you are. Some property managers will prohibit sublets in the lease agreement, but some cities have ordinances to block that prohibition so long as the sublessor finds a “reasonable” new tenant.

In some cases, you might not even need approval from your landlord to sublet your apartment. But even so, you should keep your landlord informed of any and all residency changes.

To find out whether a sublease is legal in your situation, your first step should be researching local landlord-tenant laws for guidance on what is the norm for your area and if there are any other stipulations, such as how to price your listing or to which buildings the regulations apply.

An illegal sublet can be a huge financial and legal burden for you and the person you sublease to — so don’t be tempted to sneak a sublet.

How do I approach my landlord?

Before you start talk to your landlord about subletting your apartment, brush up on your local and state laws. Your landlord should be quite knowledgeable in this area, but you shouldn’t rely on him or her as your sole source of information. Also pore over your lease agreement to look for specifics and stipulations so you can walk into the the conversation with a clear plan in mind.

If your research tells you that you’re well within your rights to sublease worry-free, then be sure to ask your landlord how they prefer to handle the situation. They could ask you to sign a contract accepting responsibility for any unpaid rent or damages caused by a new tenant, or they could create a new lease altogether.

Your roommates should weigh in on who you sublet to, but you have the final choice.

Do I need to ask my roommates?

If you have roommates, you should absolutely discuss your plans with them and ask them what would be most comfortable for them as you move forward. Would they want to have a hand in selecting the new tenant, or would they instead prefer to just give you a few pointers about what they’re most concerned with?

Regardless, you should be communicative and transparent with the people who will be living with the new tenant you select every day — but, because you’re still financially on the line, you get to make the final call.

How do I list my sublease?

Finding someone to fill your sublet is one of the easiest parts of the process. For starters, you can create a detailed and professional-looking listing on Rentable and throw your apartment in front of active apartment-seekers right in your city.

All you need to do is upload great photos, input your address and give us a description, and we’ll verify the listing so sublet-seekers know they can trust the listing. When your listing is built, you can and should immediately share it across social media with all of the information — with the Rentable link, it’s easy to share all of the information in an intuitive and attractive format.

While you’re deciding what to price your place, comb your lease and your local laws for any governing regulations. In some areas, your sublet rent can’t exceed the normal market rent.

If you’re still struggling, try these six tips to fill your sublet quickly.

What should sublease agreements include?

Sublease agreements are between you (aka sublandlord), your landlord, and the person you’re subletting to (aka subtenant), and they’re a legal framework to assign certain responsibilities and rules — just like a normal rental agreement.

Whether it’s drafted by you or your landlord, you’ll want to be sure it discusses a few key topics:

  • When rent is due, and how much
  • How long the rental term is
  • Who is responsible for the security deposit
  • Whether a property inspection is taking place between tenants
  • Whether renters insurance is required
  • What happens if the subtenant defaults

In a sublet contract, you’ll want to cover many of the same areas discussed in your regular lease agreement. Consult other sublease agreement examples, such as from the Tenant Resource Center in Wisconsin.

Subletting can be the perfect solution for a renter hoping to keep their apartment while they travel, or who don’t want to deal with the fees involved in breaking a lease. And it doesn’t have to be complex.

Reading this guide was a great first step — next up: Research your local tenant laws.