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Are Sublet Fees Legal?

Yes, sublet fees are legal. In certain circumstances, your landlord or co-op board can charge a sublet fee if you decide to sublet your co-op or rental unit. 

Subletting is a popular option for tenants who need a short-term subtenant (subletter) to stay in their place temporarily. Even if the parties sign a sublease agreement between themselves, the original tenant remains responsible for the original lease agreement.

What is a sublease?

People sublet their rental property all the time and for diverse reasons. A new tenant agrees to rent from the original tenant in a sublease agreement. The parties should enter into a sublet agreement that includes the following:

  • Parties
  • Lease term
  • Monthly rent amount
  • Rent payment due date

What is a sublet fee?

A sublet fee is a fee your landlord or co-op board charges for allowing you to sublease your apartment or co-op unit. The original renter may charge the subtenant a sublet fee as part of their sublease agreement. Some renters use the fee as a security deposit to cover potential damage during the sublease.

Landlords, co-op boards, and the original tenant can use sublet fees to cover the following costs associated with the sublease:

  • Background checks
  • Application fees

Can my landlord charge a sublet fee?

It depends on the laws of your state and the terms of your lease. Almost all states allow a landlord to charge a reasonable sublet fee if it's in their lease agreement.

Can I sublet my co-op apartment?

It depends on your co-op sublet policy. In most co-operative apartment buildings, the shareholders who own an apartment in the co-op building can sublet their unit with board approval. As a shareholder, there's a good chance you signed a proprietary lease that allows the co-op board to collect a surcharge, like a sublet fee.

Although your prospective tenant will need board approval before they can move in, you should consider possible sublet fees before you set rent. The amount you charge for rent should include your maintenance fee and any additional fees charged per month by your co-op board.

Do I need my landlord's consent to sublet?

State laws vary in requiring a landlord's consent before subletting. For example, you need your landlord's written permission in Alaska and New York to sublease your rental property.

Most lease or rental agreements include a sublet clause with instructions. If your lease agreement does not, you should still ask for your landlord's permission in writing. If you sublease without express consent, you may risk eviction.

Get Legal Help

Different factors determine whether or not you will face fees by subletting your rental or co-op unit. A real estate attorney can help you understand rental laws and give you sound legal advice. Consider hiring the legal services of an experienced real estate attorney today.

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