Landlord/Tenant Law

Can I Sublet My Apartment?

Many written lease agreements are for a one year period. A tenant may have every intention of remaining in the dwelling for one year at the time that the lease is signed, however, sometimes circumstances change. For example, the tenant may take a job in a new city, lose his job and be unable to make rent payments, get married or relocate to care for a sick relative. If any of those situations, or countless other situations, arise then the tenant may wish to sublet his apartment in order to make sure that the rent is paid for the remainder of the lease period.
If a tenant is interested in subletting then there are two things that the tenant must consider before approaching the landlord about any subletting arrangement. Specifically, the tenant should be aware of any city or state laws regarding subletting and the specific terms of the lease.

Does your City or State Have Laws About Subletting?

Some jurisdictions, such as New York City, have regulations about subletting. In New York City a tenant is able to request permission to sublet from the landlord and the landlord may not unreasonably refuse that request. For example, the landlord could refuse to agree to the sublet arrangement because the subletter has a poor credit history or is unemployed. However, the landlord could not refuse to sublet because he didn’t want to deal with the hassle of subletting or because he didn’t like the subletter’s religion or race.
Other cities and states have similar laws about subletting. In Illinois, for example, if the lease is silent on the topic of subletting then the tenant may sublet without the landlord’s consent. If the lease allows subletting with the landlord’s consent then that consent cannot be unreasonably withheld.

What Are the Terms of Your Lease?


Your lease may have specific terms in it about subletting. For example, it might require that you provide your landlord with a certain amount of notice. If you have roommates and you are all on the lease then the lease may require the approval of the other roommates.
If you do decide to sublet then it will be important to enter a written agreement with the person to whom you are subletting. The agreement should specify who will be responsible for which expenses including the amount of the rent to be paid by each party and the utility bills. It should also be specific as to the duration of the agreement and the notice that will be required to terminate the agreement.
Most landlords have two concerns about the properties that they rent. First, they are concerned that the properties remain in good condition and second, they are concerned about collecting the rental payments. If you can provide information to the landlord that assures the landlord that the person to whom you want to sublet can keep the property in good condition and pay the rent in full and on time then the landlord will likely want to work with you and approve the sublet agreement.