To sublet or to sublease is to rent your apartment/house to someone during your own lease term. This second lease, a sublet lease, does not release the original tenant from the obligation to fulfill all the terms of the initial lease.
When things go well, subletting is a good way of temporarily transferring the obligations of a lease, whether during summer or while away for a semester abroad or when you have to leave before the end of the lease term. However, when things go wrong, subletting can become a problem for the original tenant, the subtenant or for both. Here are some facts about subletting, which may prove helpful in avoiding unforeseen and unpleasant circumstances:
- When signing a lease make sure that subletting is permitted by your lease. Most leases allow subletting, but they usually require additional written consent by the property owner or manager. Consent cannot be unreasonably denied. Denial of consent can only be based on financial assessment and credit history of the potential subtenant, not on any discriminatory factors.
- Be aware that the original tenant is still bound to the terms of the lease, should the subtenant fail to fulfill any of the obligations of the lease. By the same token, the subtenant's obligation is to fulfill all the terms of the original lease. It makes very good practice for both the original tenant and the subtenant to read and understand the terms of the original lease. This is the surest way to avoid problems that can arise with subletting.
Whether you are the original tenant interested in subletting your apartment or the potential subtenant, keep in mind the following:
- Finding a subletter does not relieve you from the obligations of your lease. If the subtenant defaults on the rent payment or damages the premises, the original tenant is ultimately responsible.
- Use a subletting contract. Do not rely on a verbal agreement. The Office of Off-Campus Services can provide you with a sublet lease. Download one from www.upenn.edu/offcampusservices. Sometimes the landlord has his/her own sublease agreement and they will want you to use their form.
- Inspect the premises carefully and document in writing the condition of the apartment, both when the subtenant takes over the premises and - if possible - before the subtenant vacates the premises. Get a security deposit to protect yourself against possible damages to the premises.
- To avoid problems with utility and telephone bills, make sure the utility accounts in your name are disconnected and the subtenant sets up his/her own accounts. (Or at least be aware that responsibility for utility and telephone bills is often a serious problem in subletting and protect yourself by asking for advance payment or make another agreement fair to both parties.)
- If you are in a house/apartment sharing situation, be aware that you are jointly and severally responsible for the total rental payment. Do not think that your obligation to pay rent is limited only to your share of rent and that if you find a subtenant for your room your obligation is fulfilled.
- People who sublet their apartments may be willing to negotiate the rental amount, especially in summer, when the number of sublets available is greater than at any other time during the year. In the last two years, however, due to a very tight rental market, rental prices for sublets are only slightly lower, if at all, than the regular rent.
- If you need to terminate your lease before the original expiration date and you have found a potential subtenant for the apartment, you may want to ask your landlord if he/she is willing to reassign the lease. This means that the landlord is willing to relieve you from the obligations of your lease, which should be done in writing, and will sign a new lease with the new tenant. This may be done without imposing a charge or there may be a charge which could be equal to a one month's rent. Whether there is a charge or not, this is the best way out of a lease.
- As a subtenant, be aware that all the obligations of the original lease become your obligations, too. When the tenant you have signed the agreement with is living in a house/apartment-share situation, you also become jointly and severally responsible for the total amount of rent. You may have found a more reasonably priced place, which offers you more for less, but unless you are aware of the terms of the original lease, you may be responsible for more than you bargained for.
If you are looking for a sublet or would like to sublet your apartment, either during summer of for that semester abroad, check out our interactive database, and post your information there.
Last modified: 2011-12-20 13:02:46