What is a Sublet Lease?

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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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A sublet lease is a lease that is signed between a tenant and a person to which he wishes to lease his apartment. In essence, the tenant becomes a landlord even though he does not own the apartment. There are many instances where a sublet lease could be seen as a good option for a tenant. Should the tenant have to leave his apartment for a short period of time before his lease is up, he can draw up a sublet lease for another tenant. He can also sublet his apartment if he wishes to reduce the amount he pays for rent.

The only difference between a sublet lease and a standard lease is that the sublet lease being signed is between a tenant and his sublessee, rather than a landlord and a tenant. In a sublease, the original tenant may have to collect a security deposit and should draw up a lease to sublet. In addition, the tenant may need to attain written permission from the apartment’s landlord. Once permission is gained, the landlord may be able to help the tenant gather any information he needs, such as credit checks, in order to sublease the apartment to an appropriate party. Whatever method is used, all obligations should be clear and concise so that there are no misunderstandings.


If a tenant wishes to draw up a sublet lease, he must first find out if he is allowed to do so. His lease with his landlord should give him clarification on that subject. Some leases do not have a sublet clause, which may mean that subletting is allowed. If there is any doubt, the landlord should be contacted. Once the tenant is certain that subletting is allowed, he should meet with the landlord and get written permission to sublet. Once a suitable person is found, a sublease should be drawn up between the sublessor and the sublessee describing all the appropriate obligations.

Drawing up a sublet lease can have various advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is that a tenant will be able to leave their apartment before the lease is up and have someone else pay the bills while he is gone. The sublessor may also be able to save a little money by having someone else pay a portion of the rent. One disadvantage is that the original tenant is usually responsible for any unpaid rent, bills, and damage to the apartment regardless of who actually did it. The sublessee should be chosen carefully, therefore, to prevent such an occurrence.

There are alternatives to sublet leases. Two of these are assignment and novation. Assignment entails sublessee taking over the rest of the lease and negotiating with the landlord himself instead of going through the tenant. In this instance, the original lessee is still responsible for any damages and unpaid rent. Novation happens when the landlord releases the original tenant from any obligations of the lease. Both alternatives have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is necessary to do the proper research.


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