Residential Sublease Agreement FAQ - United States


A sublease is a legally binding contract made between a tenant and a new tenant (also known as a subtenant or a sublessee). The sublease gives the subtenant the right to share or to take over the rented premises from the original tenant. Typically, the subtenant pays rent directly to the first tenant while the first tenant pays rent directly to the landlord. Alternatively, the subtenant can pay the rent directly to the landlord. The landlord still holds the first tenant directly responsible for the rent and for any damage, including any caused by the subtenant. Usually, the first tenant must get consent from the landlord before he/she is allowed to sublease the premises.
Sublease Basics
Why won't an oral sublease agreement be sufficient for me?

The problem with oral sublease agreements is that they can be difficult to enforce. If a dispute arose, a court would have to hear evidence and decide whose version of the facts to accept. If there is a written agreement, courts will generally be obligated to uphold the terms of the written agreement. Some jurisdictions require that any contracts involving land must be in writing to be enforceable.

What is addressed in a sublease agreement?

A sublease agreement typically addresses the following:

1. the names of the parties (the tenant, the subtenant and the landlord);

2. information of the master/original lease;

3. the term of the sublease and whether the sublease is fixed or periodic; and

4. the amount of rent payable (if different from the master lease).

In addition, a residential tenancy agreement may also identify the following:

1. the provisions of any utility payments;

2. the provisions of any security/damage deposit; and

3. any insurance provisions.

What is the governing law of my Sublease?

The governing law will be the jurisdiction in which the property is located, regardless of which jurisdictions the Sublandlord (original tenant) and Subtenant (new tenant) reside.


The Parties
Who is the Sublandlord?

The Sublandlord (or the original tenant) is the person who entered into a lease with the original Landlord, and who is now leasing all or part of the Landlord's property to the Subtenant.

Who is the Subtenant?

The Subtenant or Sublessee is the person who is entering into a lease for some or all of the Landlord's property from the Sublandlord (the original tenant).


The Master Lease
What is the Master/Original Lease?

The Master/Original lease is the lease that the Sublandlord (the original tenant) entered into with the Landlord. The Subtenant's interest in the property cannot exceed the interest created by the original lease. The sublease will usually require the Subtenant to comply with all the provisions of the master lease in addition to the provisions of the Sublease.

Do I need to provide the Subtenant with a copy of the Master Lease?

Yes, the Subtenant is entitled to a copy of the Master Lease. The Sublandlord can include a copy of the Master Lease with the Sublease Agreement, or can deliver a copy directly to the Subtenant.


The Sublease
What does "Automatic Renewal" mean?

Automatic renewal means that the lease continues indefinitely on the agreed upon interval (weekly, monthly, or yearly) until either the Subtenant or the Sublandlord gives notice to the other party that they will be terminating the sublease.

Can I sublease a portion of the property rather than the entire property?

Yes, you can sublease a part or all of the leased premises to the Subtenant.


Damage Deposits and Insurance
What is a damage deposit?

A damage deposit is a sum of money paid by the Subtenant to the Sublandlord (original tenant) to guarantee that the Subtenant will not damage the property. The Sublandlord holds the damage deposit for the term of the sublease to insure that the Subtenant does not default on the terms of the sublease agreement or otherwise damage the property. Should the Subtenant damage the property (normal "wear and tear" excluded), the Sublandlord is entitled to recover the damages from the damage deposit. Usually the Subtenant must provide the Sublandlord with the damage deposit at the start of the sublease term. At the end of the sublease term, the Subtenant will receive the deposit back minus any deductions for repairs/restoration.

How much should the damage deposit be?

Damage deposits are usually equivalent to the value of one month's rent. The maximum amount is usually governed by the legislation in each jurisdiction.

Should the Subtenant have insurance?

It is strongly recommended that the Property should be insured. However, the Subtenant does not need to have their own insurance if the Sublandlord has obtained sufficient insurance to cover the Subtenant. Typically, the Subtenant will still need to insure their own contents at a minimum.


Inspection Forms
What is a check-in inspection form?

The check-in inspection form is completed by the Subtenant within a reasonable amount of time after the Subtenant takes possession of the property. This form contains a description of the condition of the property at the time of the Subtenant's possession, and will be used at the end of the sublease term as a comparison tool to determine if the Subtenant caused any damage to the property. It will protect the Subtenant from the Sublandlord claiming damages were caused by the Subtenant when those damages were there at the beginning of the term.

How many days should the Subtenant be given to complete a check-in inspection form?

There is no statutory minimum amount of time, but the Sublandlord should give the Subtenant a reasonable amount of time. Depending on the circumstances under which the Subtenant will take possession, a reasonable period of time would likely be between 7 and 30 days. Some sublandlords will go through the premises and complete the inspection form with the subtenant when the subtenant is first given possession of the premises.

Can I restrict what alterations the Subtenant is allowed to make to the property?

Yes, the Sublandlord can determine the extent to which the Subtenant can make alterations. The Sublandlord may reduce the Subtenant's right to make improvements from the level established for the Sublandlord in the Master Lease, but the Sublandlord cannot increase the Subtenant's right to make alterations beyond the level outlined in the Master Lease. Typically, the master lease will require that the landlord consent to any alterations.


Consent
Do I need to create the Landlord's Consent to Sublease?

The Landlord's Consent to Sublease should only be included in the Sublease Agreement if the Landlord has not previously provided written consent to the sublease.

What additional purposes can the Subtenant make of the property?

The Sublandlord can only authorize the Subtenant to use the property for purposes that have been approved by the Landlord. Before allowing the Subtenant to use the property for additional purposes that are not stated in the Master Lease, the Sublandlord needs to obtain the consent of the Landlord.


Signing Details
I do not know when the Sublease will be signed. Can I fill in the date later?

Yes, by selecting 'Unsure' as the date the agreement will be signed, a blank line will be inserted into the contract so that you can add the correct date after printing the document.

Who should sign the Sublease?

Both the Sublandlord and the Subtenant should sign the Sublease, and it is strongly recommended that at least 2 witnesses also sign it.


 

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