If I Sublet My Apartment, Who is Responsible?

If you’re considering subletting your apartment, the first question to ask is Am I even allowed to sublet? Not every property manager allows subleasing. Where subleasing is allowed, the lease will typically spell out the process a tenant must follow.

Subleasing


If your lease allows for subletting, the next thing you need to know is exactly what’s required of you. In many cases, the person who will be subletting your place will have to fill out an application, which needs to be approved by the landlord or management company just like any other tenant.

Assuming you get the green light on subletting, don’t assume you’re off the hook. Many renters believe if they sublet an apartment, all responsibility passes to the new tenant. That’s rarely true. In most cases, you’ll remain responsible under the lease, just as if you had continued to live in the apartment. That means, in most cases:


  • The landlord will retain your security deposit until the end of your original lease term

  • You will be responsible for any damages that occur during your original lease term

  • You will be liable for any unpaid rent during your original lease term, even if that rent is supposed to be paid by the short-term tenant


Although you remain responsible to your landlord while you’re subletting your apartment, that doesn’t necessarily mean you ultimately have to bear the costs. If your subtenant damages the premises and you’re charged for repairs, you may be able to collect those costs from your subtenant yourself. However, if the landlord assesses charges against your security deposit or even takes you to court for unpaid rent or damage to the property, you’ll probably have to pay. The subtenant is responsible for that is usually not a valid defense.

On rare occasions, the property manager may agree to terminate your lease early and to enter into a new lease with the new tenant. In that case, your legal obligations will generally end as soon as your lease is terminated and the new lease executed. In addition, it may be possible to negotiate with your subtenant to take some of the burden off of you. For example, after a walkthrough and examination of the property, the new tenant may agree to replace your security deposit.

The bottom line, though, is unless and until your lease is legally altered or terminated, you will usually be responsible for everything you agreed to when you originally entered into your lease.