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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.

Many renters who have to break their leases often turn to subleasing or reletting a rental property to avoid the fees and penalties associated with early lease termination. The difference between a relet and a sublease rests on who pays rent and cares for the rental unit.

This article will explore a few critical differences between subleasing and reletting.

Terminology

First, let's differentiate between these two terms. A "relet" means a new tenant is responsible for a unit and pays the landlord. A "sublease" or "sublet" means someone else pays the rent, but the original tenant is still responsible for the rent and damages to the unit.

Reletting and Subleasing

Reletting and subleasing are different methods of renting out a property. Each scenario involves a third party entering into a lease agreement signed initially between a landlord and the initial tenant.

Renters interested in either method should refer to their lease agreements. A lease agreement should explain whether the tenant may sublease, relet, or assign the lease to another renter.

Reletting a Rental Property

A landlord relets a property by having a new tenant sign an entirely new lease. This is also known as the assignment of the lease to a new party. Reletting the property voids the original lease and releases the original tenant from any continuing obligations. The relet to the new renter establishes a new contractual relationship between the new tenant and the landlord.

Property owners relet their rental units for several reasons, but relets occur after early termination of the initial rental agreement. There are several reasons why renters terminate their leases before the end of the lease term. These may include:

  • A new job
  • The birth of a child
  • Inability to afford rent payments

Eviction Process

Sometimes, a landlord will ask the problem tenant to leave or evict the tenant, allowing the landlord to return the property to someone else. If the landlord pursues eviction, they must follow local laws governing eviction. They must give the original tenant written notice and a period of time to cure their default.

Diligent Efforts

If a tenant breaks a lease agreement, the landlord must work diligently to find a new tenant. This may limit the amount of rent for which the original tenant would be responsible after ending the lease before the contracted date. It is in the best interest of the original tenant to find a new tenant as well.

Subleasing a Rental Property

Subleasing or subletting occurs when an original tenant rents a room or a portion of the property to another. Both parties enter a sublease agreement, and the current tenant may request a security deposit from the new party. The subtenant must pay monthly rent and comply with the sublet agreement. The original tenant is responsible for the original lease agreement. That means if the subtenant owes back rent, the landlord can sue the original tenant.

Renting out your property to another person for a short term (less than the entire term of the lease) is also a common sublease option. A university student may get a one-year lease on an apartment and try to sublet it over the summer if they return home.

Consent

Many landlords or property managers prohibit tenants from subleasing unless the tenant pays a fee and gets prior written consent. Subleasing without permission is often considered a breach of the rental contract.

Problems With a Subtenant

If there is a problem with a subtenant, and the initial tenant has drafted a sublease contract, the original tenant may sometimes serve a notice of eviction. A landlord may also evict a subtenant by serving a notice to perform or quit, which means the initial tenant must evict the subtenant or may face eviction for failing to do so.

Get Help

If you are a renter or landlord facing sublease or reletting issues, you should speak to a qualified, experienced landlord-tenant attorney. These attorneys are well-versed in your state's laws and can provide sound legal advice.

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