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Getting Approval for a Sublet in California

State law in California does not offer specific guidance on how to request approval for a sublet, but certain cities do give specific guidance. If you're San Francisco or Berkeley follow your city's rules. If you're anywhere else, request approval in writing and with proof of receipt.

We've created this sample sublet request letter that you can customize and send to your landlord using mail, email or hand delivery. Send it, along with a copy of your sublet agreement and a rental application on your proposed subtenant.

Getting approval in San Francisco

In San Francisco, to establish that a landlord’s rejection of a potential new subtenant is unreasonable, tenants must follow a seven-step process under Section 6.15 of the San Francisco Rent Board's Rules and Regulations:

  • Request approval in writing before the start of the new tenant’s occupancy
  • Your proposed new tenant must meet the landlord's regular reasonable application standards, but the landlord is not allowed to ask for more than a background check if the subtenant will be paying rent to you
  • You have to give your landlord five business days to process the application
  • The proposed new tenant must meet your landlord's regular application standards
  • The proposed new tenant must agree to sign and be bound by the current lease or rental agreement
  • The tenant may not have, without good cause, requested the landlord to consent to a new tenant more than one time per existing tenant during the previous twelve months
  • The tenant must be replacing a departing tenant(s) with an equal number of new tenants.

If you send your request by mail then the request is deemed received on the fifth calendar day after the postmark date. If you send your request by email then the request is deemed received on the second calendar day after the date the email is sent. If you personally deliver it, the the request is deemed received on the same day of the delivery.

Within fourteen days, if your landlord hasn't respond to your request in writing with a description of the reason for denial - including specific facts supporting the reasons for the denial the request is deemed approved.

Getting approval in Berkeley

In Berkeley the tenant must make a written request for consent at least two weeks prior to commencement of the sub-tenancy. The proposed new subtenant must have:

  • Complied with all of the landlord’s written requests to complete the landlord’s standard form application or has otherwise provided sufficient information allowing the landlord to conduct a standard background check, including references, credit, income
  • Have not refused any of the landlord’s requests to be bound by the terms of the current rental agreement between the landlord and the tenant and meets the landlord’s customary occupancy qualifications

As long as you do this then your landlord probably isn't allowed to refuse you.

In other cities in California, like Oakland, Los Angeles and Santa Monica, you should make a written to sublet, and be sure to read up on your landlord's right to ignore or refuse your request - and what happens if they do-in your city.

What if my landlord is ignoring me?

Sent a request, and not getting a response? Find out what you can do if your landlord ignores you or refuses your request in California.

Can my landlord evict me for subletting in California?

Yes. If you sublet your entire apartment without the landlord’s written permission in California, your landlord may evict you. However, many cities in California protect people who live with roommates from getting evicted when they sublet. For example, in San Francisco if your lease absolutely prohibits subletting but specifies the number of people who are allowed to live in your rental—or if the "open and established behavior" of you, your roommates, and the landlords acknowledges that multiple tenants live in your rental—then you cannot get evicted for replacing one tenant with another tenant or subtenant. There are similar laws in Oakland, Berkeley, and Santa Monica.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.