Before you give the keys of your apartment to someone else for subleasing, draw up a sublease agreement! Use one of the sublease agreement templates in this post and make sure you include all the details that are required by law and to make your life easy.
When can I sublease my apartment?
You can sublease your apartment if your local laws and your lease agreement allow you to sublease your place.
The local laws can be very different on this. While you can sublet by default in Nevada and Utah for example, you need to get the landlord’s permission in Missouri or Texas. So it really varies from State to State. Obviously it will be different in other countries than the USA and in the Netherlands you can NEVER sublet your apartment for example.
Your specific sublease agreement may also contain clauses that prevent you from subletting your place. Whether those clauses are conflicting with the law is another thing altogether. It could be that the clauses are not enforceable or that your landlord doesn’t mind due to other reasons.
In any case we advise to always consult with your landlord first. He/she may have good reasons to not allow the sublease, but he/she could also appreciate you finding a sublessee. There could be an economic downturn that makes finding a new tenant difficult or you may have a very trustworthy friend that the landlord is happy to rent to. In those cases it can often be a win-win situation for you and the landlord.
Why should I use a sublease agreement?
You should draw up an agreement for a sublease in almost ALL situations. Even if you are going to sublease to a really good friend or family member – money comes between people in many occasions. You don’t want to risk a relationship for money and you also don’t want to risk your place to live over things you didn’t properly discuss beforehand.
A sublease contract helps you to clarify the terms between you and the subtenant, but also clarifies your continuing responsibilities with the landlord. You may find that you’re still responsible for things that you didn’t know (the state of the apartment for example) and that can change your mind on whether you want to continue with the sublease.
It also helps you plan for your return to your place after the sublease is over. Usually you’ll be subletting your place for a limited time due to temporary travel or work obligations. The contract will help you return properly and also help plan the change-back.
Who should sign a sublease agreement?
A sublease agreement should be signed by the landlord, the tenant and the subtenant. A lot of people forget that first party: the landlord. But the landlord is the most important person/organization on the contract (see this article on Tenant Resource Center).
The laws on this are not always the same though. In California for example, tenants CAN sublet a place by default. But the landlord can prevent them from doing so in the lease agreement.
There are a few simple steps to take when you’re thinking about subletting your place:
- Find out about the local laws on subleasing
- Read and review your sublease agreement
- Check with your landlord
In these cases it’s always best to involve your landlord – even when you don’t need their permission. For practical purposes (when renovations need to be done or a new key needs to be made), it’s much easier if the landlord is familiar with the subtenant so that they can deal with issues directly without intervention.
What should I write in a sublease contract?
When you’re drawing up a sublease contract or when you’re thinking of signing one, then make sure to check if everything is there that needs to be there.
The following items should at least be in a sublease contract:
- landlord details and signature: without the approval of the landlord the whole contract is pointless
- lessee and sublessee details and signatures: sometimes these will be called “principal tenant” and “subtenant”
- property address and description
- term: how long the agreement is for, but also whether it will renew or not
- utilities and other costs
- applicable laws and regulations
Make sure to use a standard contract (as the ones below) as much as possible and consult with a lawyer if you have a lot riding on this.