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How To Sublet Legally In New York

All tenants in New York have the right to sublet. As long as you follow the right steps your landlord isn't allowed to prevent you from subletting.

According to New York's laws about subletting you have the absolute right to sublet your market-rate apartment at no additional cost. You need to follow the below steps carefully, but your landlord can’t “unreasonably refuse” your request. They also can't put a term in your lease that prohibits subletting.

Ready to get a subtenant without the risk of doing it illegally? Follow these steps.

1. Figure out if your unit is stabilized or not

Subletting rent-stabilized apartments in New York is more complicated and requires more care. The tenant still enjoys the right to sublease, but only if they maintain the apartment as their primary residence. For example, if you wish to sublet while you take a temporary job assignment, or you are in the military service or college, or you expect to spend four months wintering in Florida, you may still be considered a primary resident. Basically, your landlord has more ability to refuse your request if your place is stabilized.

Wondering how to figure out if your unit is stabilized in NYC? It's not always easy, but your lease is the right place to start.

2. Check your lease terms for any guidance

If your lease doesn’t mention anything about subletting then you are free to do so in New York.

It most likely contains a clause that requires you to obtain your landlord’s approval prior to subletting. This clause is usually titled "sublets and assignments" and it pretty much always says that you are allowed to sublet as long as you get your landlord's approval.

3. Request approval

You should send a letter to your landlord via certified mail, return receipt requested, and save a copy of the document for your own records. Certified mail is the only proof of delivery that most courts will accept and thus is the best way to protect yourself. Most people don't take such a formal route, so feel this out based on your relationship with your landlord or property manager. If you think there is any chance they'll be uncooperative, send the letter (better safe than sorry).

The letter should clearly outline the terms of the agreement and include the following information:

  • The term (starting and end dates) of the sublet
  • The name of the proposed subtenant
  • The permanent home address of the proposed subtenant
  • Your reason for subletting
  • Your new address during the sublease if applicable
  • The written consent of any co‑tenant
  • A copy of the proposed sublease
  • A full application from the proposed sublessee — as much information about this person’s finances and background as you can get, the better

If you haven't found a subtenant yet, you can leave the specifics about who will be replacing you blank. Just say that you will find someone qualified and will send their application as soon as it's ready.

4. Make sure your subtenant is qualified

Your landlord really does have the right to deny your request if you find someone who is less desirable as a tenant than you. Make sure to find someone who meets the same screening standards that you had to meet in order to get your lease.

4. Wait for approval

Your landlord must respond to your request for approval to sublet within thirty days of mailing the initial notice. If the landlord doesn’t respond then their consent is assumed and you are free to sublet.

If your landlord rejects your request, know that he can only reject proposed subtenants based on legitimate factors and can’t “unreasonably refuse” the request.

Legal grounds for refusal may include:

  • The financial responsibility of the proposed assignee or subtenant.
  • Intended use of the property.
  • The legality of the proposed use.
  • The nature of the occupancy.
  • The compatibility of the tenant’s use with the uses of the other tenants.

5. Sign a sublease and get a security deposit

Remember just because you aren’t living in the place anymore, doesn’t mean that you aren’t held accountable to the terms of your lease. It is still up to you to make sure that your rent is paid on time and that none of the lease terms are broken.

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