The Legal Ramifications of Subletting Your Apartment

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You must get written consent from your landlord prior to subletting your apartment. If you don’t get permission, the landlord has grounds to evict you from the apartment and sue you for damages. Even though you have the proper consent from your landlord to rent your apartment out to someone else in a sublease agreement, you’re still on the hook legally if they violate the sublease agreement and damage the apartment.

Failure to Pay Rent

You remain liable for rent payments despite the fact that the landlord agrees to the subletting. This makes sense, because you screened the subletter (or should have) and made the determination that they would be willing and able to pay rent. Your landlord was not involved in that process, and therefore the responsibility rests on your shoulders. One way to safeguard against this is to collect a couple of months worth of rent payments in advance before subletting the apartment. This guarantees that the rent will be covered for two months, and you’ll have time to react if they don’t pay rent.

The exception to this rule is if your landlord releases you from legal responsibility to pay rent. This is one option available to landlords, and they might choose it if they have an opportunity to screen and approve the subletter prior to a move in. Discuss this possibility with your landlord, and make sure the release is in writing. It’s hard to prove that a verbal release ever existed if the landlord gets upset and takes you to court for failure to pay rent.

Damages to the Apartment

Like rent, you remain legally responsible for any damages caused to the apartment. The majority of complaints in regards to subletting apartments all involve damages by the subletter. You have to pay for those damages, or if the landlord makes those repairs, the funds for it will come out of your security deposit. Some damages are so egregious that the landlord may take you to court over it, because the security deposit is not sufficient to take care of them. For this reason, it’s important that you be careful when subletting your apartment. It’s not a good idea for everyone, and if you do choose to sublet, you have to know as much information as possible about the subletter.

Evictions

The actions of the subletter may result in an eviction proceeding against you. If you’re out of town and can’t fix violations of the lease agreement, the landlord can and often will commence an eviction lawsuit against you. You’ll first receive a notice to cure the violation or vacate. The subletter many not cooperate in vacating the premises, which means you’ll have to sue them as well, and you can find yourself with a messy legal battle. This is compounded by the fact that you’re overseas or in another state, which might have been the reason subletting your apartment seemed like the right choice.

These legal ramifications should cause you think twice about subletting an apartment. It’s not an ideal situation for most people.

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