In theory, you should never sign an apartment lease without intending to live in the unit for the duration. But lie happens, and subletting your apartment can allow you to take care of prolonged engagements elsewhere while another tenant occupies your space (and pays rent), without breaking your lease.
Whatever the reason you need to sublet—a long summer vacation, a temporary move, a permanent relocation prior to the end of your existing lease—you need to ask permission from your landlord before bringing a subtenant into your space. The process will be a familiar one to most landlords, but if it’s your first time making the ask, you might find it intimidating. Here are some important factors to keep in mind when asking your landlord to sublet your space.
How does subletting (or subleasing) work?
It’s important understand that subletting is a legal process. It’s imperative to know your rights as a tenant before asking permission to sublease, so be sure to do your research. Laws governing it vary between states and counties, but the online resource Tenant.net gives a general look at your rights when it comes to subleasing. In some cases, laws will apply to buildings of a certain size—say, an apartment building with four or more units. If you are in a different situation (say, if you are renting an entire house), consider reaching out to a housing lawyer to see what possibilities are open to you.
A crucial point to remember is that it may be your right as a tenant to sublease your apartment, whether your landlord likes it or not. As Tenant.net explains, in may states, “[e]ven if your lease forbids it, you have the right under the law to sublease your apartment, and the lease provision is null and void.” Though the site is aimed at property managers, you can see a list of state-by-state subleasing allowances and restrictions on LandlordStudio.
What to include in your sublease request
To start the process, you’ll need to submit a formal sublease request in the form of a letter to your landlord or property owner (whichever entity is on your lease). The letter must include a few vital details and some basic information:
- Your name
- Apartment details
- Length of the terms
- Name of the subletter and their contact information
If you share your space, the Tenant Resource site suggests including an approval form signed by your roommate indicating they’ve agreed to the subleasing process. It’s also important to include the contact information where you’ll be staying during the length of the sublease. Including the reason you will be taking an extended leave from your apartment and your process of selecting the subletter will give the landlord all the details they need to consider your request.
What to expect after submitting your sublease request
After submitting the request is when it comes in handy to know the laws in your state or county. At this point, the landlord generally has 10 days to request more information and 30 days to offer an answer. If they refuse despite being presented with reasonable cause, you can fight it, but you may lose out depending on the landlord’s reasoning for denying the request.
If you feel there is no reasonable cause to deny you, you can appeal their decision and push to get your request approved, though how you go about that will vary. Apartment guide reports, “In larger cities like Chicago and New York, you can sublet your apartment, even if the lease prohibits it and your property manager denies permission… as long as the current tenant can prove that the subtenant is equally qualified.”