Subletting—also called subleasing—is when a tenant rents out their current unit to another person. In Texas, tenants may only sublease their rental unit if a lease explicitly gives them permission to do so. If a lease doesn’t mention subletting, a tenant is prohibited from doing so until they get their landlord’s approval. These rules are stricter than in many other states, where no mention of subletting in a lease is considered tacit approval to sublet.
A tenant’s right to sublet is determined entirely by the lease
Texas law specifically addresses subleasing. The relevant statute is brief and reads in full:
SUBLETTING PROHIBITED. During the term of a lease, the tenant may not rent the leasehold to any other person without the prior consent of the landlord.1
State law is the final word on this topic, since no cities in Texas have relaxed subletting laws. To break it down further, here’s how the law applies in four potential scenarios:
- If a lease prohibits subletting completely, that clause is valid, and the tenant can’t sublet (unless their landlord makes an exception).
- If a lease allows subletting—but only with landlord consent—then the tenant must get permission before renting the unit out to a subtenant.
- If a lease doesn’t mention subletting at all, it is not allowed without the landlord’s approval.
If a lease includes a clause that allows subletting in all cases and makes no mention of landlord approval, then a tenant can sublet without asking the landlord. However, lease terms this broad are extremely rare.
In many states, landlords can only reject a proposed subtenant for business-related reasons—for instance, a candidate’s financial instability or history of damaging rental properties. This is not the case in Texas, where landlords don’t need a “reasonable” basis for refusing a sublet (unless a lease says that they must).
Texas law doesn’t address the approval process for sublets
In practice, pretty much every tenant looking to sublet in Texas will have to get permission from their landlord. Although the law is clear that landlords can consent to subleases, it doesn’t lay out a specific approval process. A good rule of thumb when dealing with legal matters is to get things in writing.
Tenants should spell out the details of their proposed sublet (including the start and end dates and the identity of any potential subletters) and provide this information to the landlord in a letter or email. Tenants should also be prepared to offer evidence that the subtenant is ready, willing, and able to assume the obligations of the sublease—including things like credit checks, pay stubs, or other methods of proving a candidate’s financial stability. Remember that a landlord is not required to respond to a request, unless a lease says they are. If the landlord doesn’t respond, a tenant should consider that a rejection.
Subletters can’t automatically get out of an illegal sublease
In Texas, if a tenant sublets without a landlord’s permission—in other words, enters into an illegal sublease agreement—the subtenant cannot use this as an excuse to get out of their sublease. The subtenant must continue to pay rent to the tenant (and abide by any other terms of the sublease agreement). If they fail to do so, the tenant can sue them.2
In addition, subtenants in Texas have no ability to sue landlords.3 If a subtenant has an issue with a rental unit, they have to take it up with the tenant they’re subletting from, not the landlord.
Tenants are still responsible for the terms of their original lease during a sublet
During a sublet, the original tenant is still on the hook for rent (and any other terms of the original lease). If a subtenant stops paying rent to the tenant, the tenant has no legal excuse to stop paying the landlord. If they do, the landlord can sue the tenant for unpaid rent or for eviction.2
It’s recommended that tenants and subtenants both sign a clearly-written sublease agreement. Tenants can sue or evict a subtenant if they breach the agreement—by not paying rent, for example, or committing crimes on the property.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.