Subletting—also called subleasing—is when a current tenant rents out their apartment to another person (or people), who become their subtenants. In Florida, tenants are not banned from subletting unless there is a clause in their lease that says it’s not allowed. However, even when a lease states that a tenant may not sublet without the explicit approval of a landlord, the landlord’s refusal to allow a sublease must always be “reasonable.”
A Florida tenant’s right to sublet is entirely dependent on the lease
Florida state law doesn’t address the subleasing of rental homes one way or the other—it’s neither banned nor explicitly permitted. In practice, this means that whatever the original lease says about subletting, goes.1 For instance:
- If a lease says subletting is allowed—or doesn’t mention subletting at all—a tenant is free to rent out their home to someone else (who then becomes their subtenant).
- If a lease does not allow subletting, that provision is valid, and the tenant may not sublease their home.
- If a lease allows subletting, but only with explicit consent of the landlord, a tenant must get their landlord’s permission before moving forward.
This is true throughout the state of Florida, and no Florida cities have adopted different rules.
Landlords can’t “unreasonably” refuse a subletter
Some leases include a clause that bans subletting unless the tenant has gotten the landlord’s explicit permission. This is legal in Florida, although state courts have ruled that landlords can’t “unreasonably” refuse permission to sublet. In general, this means that the landlord must have a good reason—generally, one that’s commercially viable—to ban a sublet. Courts have also ruled that a blanket refusal to consider any subletters by a landlord is unreasonable, noting:
When a lease contains a boilerplate clause requiring the landlord’s consent for any proposed sublease—without specific standards governing the landlord’s approval—the landlord may not then arbitrarily withhold approval of a sublease.2
In practice, the tenant should prove to the landlord that the proposed subtenant is financially stable and able to pay rent. If the landlord continues to refuse the subtenant, it is possible that the landlord is acting “unreasonably,” which means a tenant could potentially sue the landlord to allow the sublease. If a landlord simply never replies to the tenant, this could be considered either implicit consent, or an unreasonable refusal—either way, if the tenant has diligently tried to get the landlord to engage and the landlord has refused, the sublease is likely okay to go forward.
Tenants who sublet without permission may face financial consequences
It’s critical for a tenant to get their landlord’s permission to sublet if the lease requires it. According to some court cases, without landlord approval, the original tenant has no legal right to collect rent from the subtenant.3
In rare cases, landlords can “implicitly” agree to a sublease
In certain, very specific circumstances, courts have ruled that a landlord could implicitly consent to a sublease, even if they never explicitly told the tenant it was okay. This can happen if the landlord knows about the sublease for an extended period of time and continues to collect rent from the tenant—without doing anything to stop the sublease.4 However, it’s always risky to rely on court decisions, since their judgement will vary based on the facts of the case. Tenants should obtain their landlord’s explicit permission to sublet whenever possible.
During a sublet, tenants are still responsible for the terms of their original lease
Even during a sublease, the original tenant remains on the hook for rent (and any other obligation they agreed to in the lease). If a subletter stops paying the tenant, the tenant has no excuse to stop paying the landlord. The landlord can sue the tenant for unpaid rent or for eviction. The landlord also has the option of suing the subtenant for rent, if they’d like. But the point still stands: tenants need to make sure subtenants pay and respect the terms of the original lease.
It’s always recommended that tenants enter into clear, written subleases with their subtenants. A tenant can sue—or evict—a subtenant on the basis of such an agreement, in the event that the subtenant breaches that agreement.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.