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What Is a Sublease Agreement?

When another person takes over an original leasee's obligations under a lease, it is known as a sublease agreement.
A sublease agreement is usually between the original lessee and the new tenant.
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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2014
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A sublease agreement is an agreement between an original leasee in which someone else takes over his obligations under the lease. Such agreements are common in real estate when an individual is renting an apartment. In some circumstances, there are limitations on whether a sublease agreement is permitted in the original lease.

A lease is an enforceable legal contract that governs the relationship between a landlord and tenant. It generally specifies the amount of rent the leasee must pay and the other terms of the lease, such as prohibited behavior. It also specifies the length of time for which the lease is valid; if the tenant attempts to break the lease early, he could be subject to monetary penalties equal to the amount of loss caused to the landlord as a result of the breach of the lease agreement.

When an individual needs to leave an apartment or other leased property early, he may wish to find a tenant to take over his lease. This can help him avoid the penalties associated with leaving the lease early. When he finds a tenant to take over his lease, he often must obtain approval from the original landlord. Some original leases prohibit the practice of subleasing to protect the landlord from having a tenant move in that he didn't personally approve of.

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In situations in which a sublease agreement is permitted, the agreement is generally between the original leasee and the new tenant. In other words, a new lease to the rental is not created between the landlord and the new tenant, and the existing tenant remains responsible to the landlord if the subtenant breaches the agreement or doesn't pay the money owed. The new tenant will be entitled only to the rights of the existing tenant from whom he is subleasing, and the term of his lease will expire when the original lease expires; the sublease contract must specify all terms that apply.

A sublease agreement may have to be approved by the landlord who owns the real estate, although the legal contract is between the new and old tenant. The person who sublets his apartment can thus enforce the legal terms of the sublease agreement in court, suing the individual who violated the contract they had, but the original landlord would be relegated only to suing the original tenant since the landlord is not a party to the new agreement.

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Discuss this Article

anon948757
Post 5

I was wondering, in the case that the sublease agreement has been signed with a set move-in and move-out date, what would happen if the sublet does not end up moving out all their belongings by the move-out date? Keys have not been returned to the original tenant either, so the tenant has no access to the apartment. In that case, would the tenant be entitled to enter the apartment using a master key from the landlord? What about the belongings that are currently still with the sublet?

lonelygod
Post 4

If you want to make a sublease agreement for your apartment is there a standard form you can find, or should you just make one yourself?

I am thinking about traveling for part of the year and would really like to keep my place, but don't want the burden of paying rent while I travel. My own rental lease doesn't say anything against subleases, so I think it will be all right.

Also, are there any clauses that you think should be a in a sublease agreement if you are preparing to have someone take over your apartment for a while?

drtroubles
Post 3

If you are thinking about entering into a sublease agreement it is a good idea to read it over very carefully to see exactly what you are going to be responsible for and if there are any odd clauses in it.

I decided to sublease an apartment for the summer so that I could experience a new city for a while and made the mistake of not looking over my lease very carefully. There was actually a clause in it that allowed the original tenant to boot me before the end of my agreed upon stay if they needed the place back.

Of course I got a refund, but had I read my lease carefully I would never have signed it. It is pretty tough being uprooted from a place on such short notice.

SZapper
Post 2

@JaneAir - Sublease agreements aren't very common where I live either. A few years ago I was in a situation where I had to move out early and I ended up having to break my lease. It wasn't cheap or easy, let me tell you!

I've also taken over a lease before. That situation worked out very well for both people involved. I was a lot more comfortable just taking over the original lease than I would have been subleasing. I know a sublease agreement is a binding contract but something about it just makes me a little nervous. For instance what if you sublease, pay the person you subleased from, and they don't pass the money on to the original landlord? I guess you would have legal recourse but I'm sure it would be a hassle.

JaneAir
Post 1

I think sublet agreements are a lot more common in some areas but not others. Where I live most leases I've signed specifically prohibit subleasing your apartment. If you need to move out early you have two options: pay money to break the lease or find someone to take over the lease.

My friends who live in New York tell me subletting is extremely common in that area. In fact two of them are subletting apartments right now! They also tell me about half the adds for apartment are for sublets. I guess a lot more people in NYC find subletting to be an acceptable situation as opposed to other areas.

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