Make a Free Sublease Agreement

A sublease agreement is used when someone is currently renting a home, but they want to rent it out to someone else while they are still in the lease.

Common Questions

Sublease Agreement Document Information

What is a Sublease Agreement?

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.

There are many different aspects of a lease to consider such as the start date and end 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. Unfortunately, life can be unpredictable. Life events, both good and bad, can interfere with your ability to maintain your tenancy for the full length of the original lease. It may be a new job that's out of the area, a marriage, a new baby, or a summer away for a student. To avoid owing money, a broken lease, or an 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 go get legal advice if you plan to use a sample sublease agreement that you've found online. As mentioned earlier, though, it is important for 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 choose a sub-tenant with care because in most jurisdictions, the master tenant will be legally responsible for damages caused by the sub-tenant (although they may have the right to bring a legal action against the sub-tenant in civil court).

Why Use a Sublease Agreement?

Sublease agreements are an extremely helpful potential option 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 it better than an oral agreement?

Many tenants could likely tell you about nightmare situations that can occur with informal subletting; the original tenant often finds themselves on the hook for damaged property and unpaid rents. 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. In a worst-case scenario, the sub-tenant might refuse to leave when you return, forcing the landlord to evict both of you. To protect yourself, prepare a clearly written agreement explaining all of the provisions from the master lease such as rent, length of the tenancy, and security deposit.

What are the Components of a Sublease 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, may be equal to or less than the original lease. For example, if you're bringing in a roommate, they would pay less than the full amount of rent since you'd still be making use of the property as well. Yet, if you were leaving the area for some reason, the sub-tenant would pay all of the rent. Remember to include how the rent should be paid. For example, money orders mailed to a specific address and made out to the landlord or property management company. 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 other 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 the 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 sub-tenant.
  • 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 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 paying 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 financially liable for any repairs that must be made because of their failure 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 exact 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. There may be times when someone needs to enter the premises 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 illegal activity takes place on the property. Having this clause makes it easier to evict subtenants who are engaged in illegal activities.
  • Pets. 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.

The Landlord Guide to Leases

Introduction

The following guide provides a blueprint for current and prospective landlords to learn how to navigate all the ins-and-outs of leases and their associated real estate actions, such as sublease agreements, property management, and eviction notices.

What Landlords Need to Know

How to execute the lease package and transfer possession of property

First, please understand that this guide makes the assumption that subletting is allowed. After you've made the decision 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 give the sub-tenant the opportunity 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.

Handling lease violations

When a violation occurs with a sublease, the tenant may have the option of filing for an eviction. How do you find out about lease violations aside from failure to pay the rent? Some violations, such as a utility shut off, may cause the landlord to be notified by an official. For instance, if the water is shut off or if the tenant is ticketed because the grass is overgrown, the city will contact the owner of the property. During a scheduled inspection of the property, you may find a pet that isn't allowed or people living on the property who are not listed on the sublease.

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.

Landlord-tenant relations and dispute

Most sub-tenants are good people who won't contact you unless there is a legitimate issue. However, there are people who are difficult. They may even seem perfectly nice at first. State law governs how landlord-tenant disputes are handled (even if the property is sublet). It is important that you know the laws in your state so that you can abide by them. In some places, cities also have their own ordinances that relate to landlord-tenant disputes. That includes both notices and the eviction process.

In Conclusion

We hope that this guide will serve as a helpful resource for your needs. Additionally, if you ever have any questions about specific legal documents, feel free to check out our Free Legal Forms Library.

More Resources

Download a PDF or Word Template

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