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5 Common Legal Problems With Subleasing

By Jenny Tsay, Esq. | Last updated on

Subleasing might be a good option if you need to move before your lease is up, but a few legal problems can potentially arise.

Subleasing, or subletting, allows the current tenant to lease the property to another person, rather than having the subtenant lease directly with the landlord.

But as the original tenant, you need to be careful. Here are five legal problems that commonly occur in subleasing situations:

  1. Subletting may be illegal where you live. Before you think about subletting, you may want to check to see if it's even legal to sublet in your city or state. Some states don't allow subleases under certain conditions. For example, it's illegal in New York to rent out a single-family home, apartment, or room for less than 30 days if you aren't living there.
  2. Your lease may not allow it. Besides complying with the law, another legal problem when subleasing is whether your rental agreement allows it. Some rental agreements include a clause that limits the renter's ability to sublet or allow guests to stay for an extended period of time without the landlord's approval. So review your agreement or talk to your landlord before you sublet, otherwise you could be breaching your lease.
  3. The subtenant doesn't pay rent. Even though the subtenant is responsible for paying rent and complying with lease terms, the original tenant still ultimately responsible for the terms of the lease. So if the subtenant doesn't pay the rent, the landlord could sue you for payment.
  4. The subtenant destroys property. Just as the original tenant is still responsible for the rent if the subtenant doesn't pay, the original tenant will likely be held liabile if the subtenant damages the rental property and doesn't fix it.
  5. Security deposit issues. You may want to ask the subtenant to pay a security deposit for the property in case they don't show up or if they damage the property. Having a bad subtenant could cause you to lose your own security deposit with the landlord, so the security deposit from the subtenant could help ensure you get your deposit back from the landlord at the end of the lease.

Need more legal help with subleasing your place? Consult an experienced landlord-tenant attorney for a better understanding of your legal rights.

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