Free Residential Sublease Agreement Template
The Residential Sublease Agreement is a contract whereby a lessee or tenant rents out the leased property or some part of it to another person, the sublessee. This agreement is valid and binding even on the landlord, except when the original lease between the landlord and tenant prohibits or does not allow subletting.
What is a Residential Sublease Agreement?
A sublease contract allows the original tenant of a rental property (known as the sublandlord) to rent out a portion or all of the property to another tenant (known as the subtenant) for a certain period of time.
The sublease cannot exceed the length of time that the original tenant agreed to rent the property for, as indicated in the master lease (also known as the original lease).
A sublease often occurs when a tenant needs to relocate temporarily during their lease term, and finds a third party to take over rent payments while they’re away.
A sublease does not invalidate the terms of the original lease. The original tenant retains their obligations to the landlord, in addition to being liable for damages or lease violations by the subtenant.
Both the subtenant and sublandlord should sign the sublease and keep a copy for their records. In addition, the sublandlord should either attach a copy of the master lease to the Sublease Agreement or deliver it directly to the subtenant.
How to Write a Sublease Agreement
You’ll need to include the following sections when drafting a simple sublease agreement:
- Premises: address and description of the residence that is being leased
- Tenant: full name and address of the original tenant
- Subtenant: full name and address of the subtenant who is taking over the lease
- Term: when the sublease will begin and end
- Original Lease: details of the original lease, including the date and landlord
- Rent: amount of money payable by the subtenant to the tenant each month
Other common provisions found in a sublease contract include:
- Landlord Approval: if the original lease requires, the tenant must get written approval
- Sublease Security Deposit: how much the subtenant must pay as security against damage
- Late Fees: how much extra the subtenant must pay if rent is not paid on time
- Utilities: whether utilities are included or whether the subtenant must pay for utilities
- Furnishings: whether or not the premises will be furnished
- Alterations: usually the subtenant is not allowed to make any alterations to the premises
- Policies: whether things such as smoking, pets, or subletting are allowed
Liability to Tenant
There is a tremendous amount of liability for the original tenant in a sublet situation. The tenant may think that once they have found a subtenant that they can simply move-out and be held harmless, but this is not the case.
- Non-Payment of Rent
If the subtenant decides not to pay rent for the current month, or is late, the tenant will be liable. Therefore, if the tenant has moved-out and is paying rent elsewhere they will be forced to cover their previous tenancy as well.
- Damage to the Premises
At the end of the sublet period, any damage found or repairs needed to get the premises back to its original condition will be the liability of the tenant. Therefore, it is recommended to have a security deposit collected at the beginning of the lease term as well as complete a Move-In Checklist to alleviate any disagreements in who created the damage.
Any eviction, or ‘Forcible Entry’ or ‘Unlawful Detainer’, will be the responsibility of the tenant. This means that if the subtenant does not pay rent and/or refuses to leave the premises the tenant will have to go down the legal process of eviction. The average eviction takes between 30 to 60 days to complete and involves filing a complaint and summons in the respective court jurisdiction where the property is located.
When to Use a Sublease Agreement
There are a few different scenarios in which someone might want or need to sublease their rental unit, such as:
- Needing to move before the rental agreement terminates
- Financial necessity
- Family/friend necessity
If someone has to leave their rental unit before the end of the rental agreement due to a job relocation, for health reasons, or to help with a family emergency, among others, they may want to sublease the unit to earn back some of the money they’re spending to rent an apartment they aren’t living in.
Some renters end up with more living space than they know what to do with, and like to have a subtenant for companionship and to use up the extra room.
Finally, there may be situations in which a tenant is the only person their friend or family member can stay with, and the tenant may need to sublease the rental unit to the friend/family member in order for them to stay long-term.
These examples don’t cover every scenario, of course, but give a general idea of when someone may want or need to sublet a rental unit.
What types of properties can be sublet?
As long as you have permission from the landlord, you can sublet any type of residential property, such as a house, condo, or apartment. However, a tenant can also sublet a portion of the premises to a subtenant, such as a:
- Single room or multiple rooms in an apartment, condo, or house
- Garage or other storage space on a property
- Basement suite
Signing a Sublease Agreement
Typically, the tenant and subtenant would both sign the sublease agreement, and in some states, the landlord is also required to sign the agreement. However, many states don’t specify sublease requirements, and in some states, the agreement could be verbal.
As mentioned earlier, we strongly recommend putting everything in writing, however, as this will protect the interests of all concerned if anything happens.
Subtenant Screening Process
Just because a tenant is subleasing part or all of their own rental unit, that doesn’t mean they should skip the screening process.
Tenants want to ensure they’re going to have a good subtenant just as much as the landlord does—and if a tenant chooses to sublease, it may be their responsibility to do all the screening!
Typically, someone subleasing a rental unit would want to ask for and follow up on the following information:
- Current and prior landlord contact information
- Employment history
- Income history
Financial red flags typically include things like bankruptcies, financial judgments, accounts sent to collections, foreclosures, and repossessions.
Tenants may also want to perform criminal background and/or credit checks on potential subtenants, according to the rules in each state.