Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

What is the Difference Between Subleasing and Reletting?

Happy property owners shaking hands with real estate broker after a deal. Young couple handshaking real estate agent after signing contract.

Sublet/Relet vs Sublease: The Difference


The difference between sublet and sublease focused on who is responsible for the rent money and care of the unit.

  • A relet means a new tenant is responsible for a unit and pays the landlord
  • A sublease means someone else pays the tenant rent, but the tenant is still responsible for the rent and damages to the unit

Reletting and subleasing refer to different methods of renting out a property to a tenant. While they both involve a third party entering into a lease originally signed between the landlord and the initial tenant, they are vastly different types of arrangements. Often, lease agreements explain whether the tenant may sublease the property and whether it may be relet to another renter, so understanding these terms can help prevent confusion and legal problems later.

See FindLaw's Landlord Tenant Law section for more related articles and resources.

Reletting a Rental Property

A landlord relets a property by having a new tenant sign an entirely new lease, thus voiding the original lease (and releasing the original tenant from his or her obligations). Thus, the relet to another tenant constitutes an entirely new contractual relationship.

A property may be reletted for any number of reasons, but often it follows a mutually agreed early termination of the initial rental agreement. Major life changes, such as job transfers or the birth of a child, may result in a tenant having to move before the lease period has ended. Sometimes a problem tenant is asked to leave or is evicted, allowing the landlord to relet the property to someone else.

Whatever the reason for breaking the lease, most states require the landlord to make a "diligent effort" to find a new tenant as soon as possible. This limits the amount of rent the original tenant would be responsible for after ending the lease before the contracted date.

Subleasing a Rental Property

When a tenant whose name is on the lease rents a room, a portion of the property, or all of the property to another, it is referred to as subleasing (or subletting). The subtenant must pay rent and comply with the lease terms, but the principal tenant remains ultimately responsible for the lease. So, if the subtenant owes back rent, the landlord has the option of suing the original tenant.

The principal tenant often faces liability for the actions of the subtenant; so if a subtenant vandalizes the property, for example, the principal tenant is responsible. Most landlords prohibit tenants from subleasing unless they have given prior written consent, which means subleasing without permission can be considered a breach of contract in many cases.

If there is a problem with a subtenant, and the initial tenant has drafted a sublease contract, he or she may serve a three-day notice of eviction in most cases. A landlord may evict a subtenant by serving a notice to perform or quit, which means the initial tenant is responsible for evicting the subtenant and may face eviction for failing to do so.

Subleasing, Reletting, or Have Other Concerns? An Attorney Can Help

Many times issues between landlords and tenants can be handled informally. But if you're in a situation where this doesn't appear to be an option, you'll want to consider taking legal action. You should know your state's laws and how they may apply in your case. It may be a good idea to meet with a landlord-tenant attorney if you're involved in a dispute related to the subleasing or reletting of a property. 

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you navigate any landlord-tenant issues.

Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Help Me Find a Do-It-Yourself Solution

Copied to clipboard

Find a Lawyer

More Options