Subletting apartments: How to sublet your apartment

Subletting apartments: How to sublet your apartment

Posted 09.14.2009 in Articles by Christopher

In need of inexpensive rent or someway to offset rent for a place you're still under lease but won't be living at? Subletting is a great answer for both of those problems. It gives the tenant the freedom to escape unwanted rent while allowing a temporary subletter the chance to find a place relatively quickly and sometimes furnished, but how legal is it and what are the best ways to go about subletting?

Subletting is the process of the lessee, the person who normally lives in the apartment, renting out his or her apartment room to someone else who is not the main tenant. This usually happens when the tenant will not be living in the apartment for some time or has an empty room to fill. The subletter will pay rent to you, the lessee, and you are responsible if your subletter defaults or causes any damages. In an alternative to subletting, the subletter pays the landlord (the lessor) and deals with the landlord directly—this is called “assignment”.

Subletting is legal unless the contract states otherwise. Some contracts specify that the lessee must get approval from the landlord before subletting out their apartment. If the contract doesn't mention anything about subletting, it is generally assumed that subletting is allowed. There are certain instances, therefore, when subletting is not legal; it depends on the landlord and the contract between lessor and lessee.

There are many reasons which would prompt a lessee into finding a subletter. These are primarily motivated by money: people looking for extra cash could rent out a spare room such as an office and turn it into a bedroom. If the lessee needs help paying rent, getting a subletter would help with that too. Or if the lessee will be away from home for an extended period of time but is still in contract or will return after some months, subletting will decrease or completely relieve the burden of paying all the rent.  If you have two overlapping leases and you can't get out of one, then getting a subletter so you don't have to pay rent on two places while you're only living in one is a much more financially apt decision. When you go abroad, you may also need a subletter to pay part or all of the apartment rent as they live there.

If it's stated in your contract that you are not allowed to sublet, you will need specific written authorization from your landlord to bypass that. Other than that, many contracts do specify that you need to notify your landlord anyway. To make it official, there are landlord contracts and documents for subletting that you need signed and approved if you want to sublet your apartment.

If you are denied, then it is not legal to sublet your apartment. Your landlord will probably provide a written documentation of why subletting is not advisable. If you sublet without landlord approval, should you be found out, you would be in danger of facing fines or other legal action, such as lease cancellation, from the landlord. Instead of taking the risk, ensure that you do get approval.

There are various ways to find a subletter on the Internet. One site is Craigslist, where you can search for people looking for rooms or apartments, as well as post your own listings with apartment and room information. offers the option to have subletters post ads, as well as subletter listings and subletting documents. There are also links to information about renter's insurance and other resources for renting and subletting.

Before subletting, decide on how much rent you want your subletter to pay, how the utilities will be paid, and whether or not you want a security deposit. A security deposit from your subletter is a good idea if you're worried about the subletter defaulting or not paying the rent on time. When subletting, make sure that you do draw up a subletting agreement to ensure some protection against your subletter defaulting or refusing to pay. There are many stories of finding subletters that seem to be reliable, but end up refusing to pay the rent or some other fiasco. Avert these potential crises with subletting contracts, which will enable you to take legal action should anything untoward occur.
Subletting can actually be a very simple process if you find a good subletter and settle the contracts and permissions quickly. Subletting is a great way to save money on your rent or avoid having to pay rent at all, especially if you are traveling abroad or are caught in between overlapping leases. Do make sure that your subletter is a person you would be comfortable having in your apartment, or possibly living with, depending on the terms of your contract. Meet the person first and talk with them to get a sense of what they are like. Sometimes, finding a subletter quickly without proper documents or a proper contract can lead to scams or a miserable roommate situation. Also, using sites like and researching the correct legal processes will ensure your subletting process to be a smooth one.

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