A sublease agreement sometimes referred to as a sublease contract, sublet contract, or a residential sublease agreement, is a contract between the current tenant and a tenant who will replace them. It is used when someone is living in a rental property (such as a house or an apartment), but they want to rent it out to someone else while they are still named on the master lease.
The main tenant may or may not remain on the property while the sublease is active.
This sort of rental agreement is often used when a tenant decides to find a roommate or if they are leaving the area because they are in the military. It may take the form of a room rental agreement if the main tenant remains on the property. Subletting requires the landlord's consent.
The main tenant should read their lease carefully to determine if subletting is allowed.
If the agreement says it is allowed, that may act as prior written consent. Otherwise, the tenant should obtain the landlord's permission in writing before beginning the process.
The start date and end date of the new lease, the monthly rent, and if there are any additional fees for the subleased premises.
Try to include as much information as possible or have a lawyer look over your contract to ensure nothing is left out. It should match the master lease in all its provisions.
When you rent an apartment or home, the length of the lease agreement is generally determined ahead of time, with the most common commitment being one year.
To avoid owing money, a broken lease, or eviction for the time you aren’t living on the property, many tenants look for a new tenant to take their place and fulfill the rent payments due for the remainder of the term.
The original tenants can use a free sublease agreement form to make the agreement formal and legally binding. While this can help you avoid attorney's fees in drafting the document, it's still a good idea to get legal advice if you plan to use a sample sublease agreement that you've found online.
The tenant to read the master lease to determine if subletting is allowed. If it is, the tenant should make sure that the information in the sublease matches the information in the master lease.
It’s equally important that the master tenant chooses a sub-tenant with care because, in most jurisdictions, the master tenant will be legally responsible for damages caused by the subtenant (although they may have the right to bring legal action against the subtenant in civil court).
A sublease agreement is used by a renter who wants to allow someone else to rent and live in the home during the original term. Much like a traditional lease, it explains the duties of the tenant. It also likes the amount of rent, how and when it should be paid, and explains the provisions of the master lease. Sublease agreements should always be approved by the landlord to ensure that the master tenant hasn’t violated their original lease agreement.
A sublease agreement template requires information from the original lease to detail the terms. It should also include the amount of rent the sub-tenant will pay, which, depending on the circumstances, maybe equal to or less than the original lease. A solid sublet agreement will also address utility payments, security deposits, a lead-based paint disclosure (if the unit was built before 1978), an inspection form, and any applicable insurance the subtenant is required to have.
The basic clauses that should be included in the agreement include:
The names of all of the tenants. This includes the names of children or other adults that will reside even part-time on the property.
A limit on occupancy. This means a certain number of people who can live on the property and who were named as tenants. This protects you in three ways. First, you have more control over who can reside on the property. You only want to allow the people that you’ve screened and who are named in the agreement to legally reside in the unit. Second, if this clause is violated, you may have the right to file an eviction notice against the occupants. Third, it eliminates additional subleasing.
The term of the agreement should be included. This could be yearly, monthly, finishing out the original lease, or some other variation between the master tenant and subtenant.
Late fees. You should include the amount of the late fee when it begins to accumulate, and any applicable cap to it. Many states have a cap. You should also list whether there is a grace period for late rent. If so, you should state the number of days.
Deposits and other fees. You should state how much you’re charging in the way of a security deposit. Keep in mind that landlord-tenant law in your state will govern when and how you must return this money at the end of the term. It should also explain the notice that the tenant will receive with the return of deposit if you had to use some or all of it for repairing damages to the property. You cannot withhold the deposit for reasonable wear. Even if the master lease allows for pets, you may consider listing it as no pets to help protect the property from damage during your absence. Any other fees, such as cleaning fees, (especially if they are non-refundable) should be disclosed.
Information about repairs and maintenance. In many jurisdictions, tenants (and subtenants) have the right to withhold rent or pay only partial rent if certain repairs and maintenance aren’t performed. One of the best things you can do to minimize this risk is to set out clear guidelines about how they should request repairs or maintenance.
You should also use this clause to explain to the subtenant what their responsibilities are regarding the property. For instance, it is their responsibility to keep the premises clean and sanitary and that they may be liable for any repairs that must be made because they fail to do so.
You’ll also want to include language on the responsibility of the tenant to notify the landlord if there is a problem or a dangerous condition on the property. Make sure that this is detailed and easy to understand. You should also explain what the tenants are and aren’t allowed to make changes to the property. It should explain how they can contact the landlord to get permission to make a change. Remember that information about repairs, maintenance, and changes to the property should read the same as the information in the master lease.
Entering the rental unit. There will be times when the landlord or their agent will want to perform an inspection on the property or contract someone to make repairs. The document should include the same information that’s in the master lease regarding notice and the right to enter the unit. Landlord-tenant law in each state generally specifies the notice that must be given to the tenant for non-emergency reasons.
List restrictions on illegal activity. Although it should be common sense for people to not use their residence for illegal purposes, you still need this clause. It helps protect you and the landlord from lawsuits if an illegal activity takes place on the property. Having this clause makes it easier to evict subtenants who are engaged in illegal activities.
You should have a clause regarding pets. First, consult the main lease. If the main lease says no pets or has restrictions or added rent for pets, that information should be placed into the sub-lease. However, to help reduce the risk that you, as the main tenant, will be responsible for damages caused by an animal on the property, consider not allowing pets in the sub-lease.
List other pertinent restrictions. Always double-check the main lease and ensure that all pertinent restrictions are listed in the sub-lease.
Include an inventory checklist that you and the tenant replacing you can use for a move-in and move-out inspection form.
Perhaps you’re traveling long-term for your job. Perhaps you’re looking to make some extra money by offering the property as an Airbnb. Regardless of your reasons, you’re interested in subletting your property. Here’s how to do that:
Read your master lease agreement first. It will tell you whether the landlord permits you to enter into a sublease agreement. If it isn’t mentioned at all, get your landlord’s permission. Keep in mind, though, that you will still hold ultimate responsibility for what happens to the property.
Check the laws in your state. As mentioned above, subleasing itself generally isn’t illegal. However, state landlord-tenant laws may provide you with the right to sublease the property even if doing so is forbidden in the lease. Just keep in mind that some states, like Texas, also allow landlords to evict you and the third-party if you fail to get permission from the landlord.
Talk to your landlord. Even if the lease states that subletting is allowed, get the landlord’s permission before you sublease the property. It’s also important that you comply with every term of the master lease. Otherwise, even in jurisdictions where subletting is allowed, your landlord will be legally allowed to say no.
Determine the right price for the property. What are others paying for rentals in the area? Consider whether you’re looking to just keep the landlord paid or if you’re looking to make extra money on top of paying for the original lease.
Find the right person to whom you will sublease the property. First, you are the one who will ultimately be responsible for the property. You certainly don’t want to choose someone who may cause serious damage to the property. Second, you don’t want to create more problems for yourself from a legal perspective. You don’t want to choose someone who you may have to sue in the future for violating the terms of the sublease. To find potential tenants, consider listing the property on Airbnb, HomeAway, Flip.lease, Sublet.com, and Short Term Housing. Once you have potential tenants, make sure that you take the necessary steps to screen them. This may include an application, a reference check, and a background check, among other activities.
Title the agreement. Make sure that the sublease agreement is titled as such.
Introduce the sublessor and the sublessee in the first paragraph. You are the sublessor. The sublessee is the person who is subleasing the property. This paragraph should also identify the property being subleased by its full address. Additionally, it should be mentioned whether the property is furnished or not.
List the length of the sublease agreement. This is very important for subleases because the length of stay may not extend the term of the master lease. However, it may be shorter than the master lease term. The dates that the agreement starts and ends should be included. It should also be mentioned whether a holdover may occur. That is, whether the sublessee can stay longer than the term listed on the agreement.
Explain the obligation of paying rent. Rent is the amount of money that the sublessee is expected to pay to the sublessor. This amount may be due to weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. This section should also explain how the rent may be paid. For example, rent payments may be paid with a cashier’s check or money order, but not in cash. Then, list the date that rent is due every month. If the sublessee is paying weekly, list the day of the week on which rent is due.
List whether utilities are included in the price of rent. If utilities are not included, that should be specifically mentioned. If the sublessor is responsible for certain utilities and the sublessee will pay other utilities, clearly explain which party will pay for which utilities.
List the amount of security deposit required to take possession of the property. In addition to the amount of the security deposit, which may be limited by state law, as well as when the security deposit will be returned (which may also be governed by state law). In some states, any withholding from a security deposit for damages must be explained in an itemized list that is provided to the sublessee.
Include the proper disclosures. This includes a lead-based paint disclosure (which is required for all residential units built-in or before 1978) and a move-in checklist. There may be other disclosures you’re required to provide, depending on your state.
Ensure that the sublease has all the same provisions and rules as your master lease. If you’re not allowed to smoke within the rental or have a pet, neither is your sublessee. The sublease agreement must have all of the same rules and conditions as the master lease. This helps minimize the likelihood of dealing with legal issues related to the agreement.
Include a statement about whether the landlord provided consent for subletting. Remember that some states allow for subletting even if the landlord forbids it within the lease.
Include governing law. Simply put, governing law refers to the state whose laws will be in effect if a dispute arises from the agreement. This is generally the state where the property is located, but not always.
Explain any additional terms and conditions. For example, can the sublessee make changes to the property? If so, are they required to return the rental to its original state at the end of their stay?
Collect dated signatures from the parties to the sublease agreement. The document should have dated signatures from the sublessor and the sublessee.
If the landlord gave consent, include a consent clause. The landlord would sign and date the document as well.
Attach a copy of the master lease if it is available. All of the parties should initial that they received a copy of the master lease. Once the sublease agreement is executed, each party should retain a copy of the agreement for their records.
Why use a Sublease Agreement?
Sublease agreements may be extremely helpful for people who need to move before the end of their lease.
By using one, both the original tenant and subtenant can solve their housing problems in a legally binding manner that helps them both.
What Types of Properties Can be Sublet?
From a technical perspective, any residential unit could potentially be sublet. However, whether it’s legally permissible is a different matter.
The master lease between the landlord and the main tenant will include a clause about whether subletting is allowed. It may also state that the main tenant needs written permission from the landlord.
The most common residential units for subleasing include apartments and condos.
Why is a Sublease Agreement Better Than an Oral Agreement?
Oral agreements are difficult, if not impossible, to legally enforce. Even in situations where the main tenant and subtenant are good friends or related, misunderstandings can and do happen.
Using a written agreement template with detailed sublease terms can provide clarification and accountability for both parties.
The landlord can't enforce any of the lease provisions against the sub-tenant. They can only enforce the main lease against you. So, ultimately, you are responsible for everything, including damage to the real property.
Is Subletting Legal in Your City?
Generally, subletting is not illegal in any city.
However, it may be forbidden by your lease agreement. In some cities, landlord-tenant laws may supersede the landlord’s desire to forbid subletting.
This means that you may still be allowed to sublet the property as a tenant even if it is not allowed in the lease. You should, nonetheless, still, try to obtain the permission of the landlord.
In some states, the landlord has the legal right to evict the tenant and the subletting tenant if the tenant failed to get permission to enter into a sublease.
How do you execute the sublease package and transfer possession of the property?
After you’ve decided to sublease the property to someone, it’s time to execute the sublease package and transfer possession of the property.
Make sure that you meet with both the main tenant and the sub-tenant in person to go over the terms in the agreement. This will allow the sub-tenant to ask questions and you, as the landlord, to make sure that the document includes all of the matching provisions.
Just like a master lease, a sublease is state-specific. Unless it meets your state’s legal requirements, it will not be legally enforceable.
Make sure that everyone signs and dates the agreement after it’s reviewed and approved. Make copies of all of the documents. You, the tenant, and the sub-tenant should be given copies of the executed lease package.
How do you handle sublease violations?
If there is a violation, you must inform the sub-tenant of the violation.
This notice should be given in writing by the master tenant.
Consult with a landlord-tenant attorney to determine if the landlord may issue the written notice if they receive a notice of the violation from a city or town official. It should inform the tenant of the lease violation and request that they correct it.
Written notice is legally required and it must be delivered in a way that the sub-tenant will find it. This could be certified mail or it could be securing the notice to the front door or main entrance of the residence.
How do you preserve landlord-tenant relations and settle disputes?
State law governs how landlord-tenant disputes are handled (even if the property is sublet). You must know the laws in your state so that you can abide by them. In some places, cities also have their ordinances that relate to landlord-tenant disputes. That includes both notices and the eviction process.
Residential Lease Agreement: A residential lease agreement sets out the terms of the landlord renting out a residential property to a tenant.
Roommate Agreement: A roommate agreement is a contract between roommates to specify common items and payments shared by roommates, such as rent and utilities.
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