The Ins and Outs of Subletting

Subletting can be a useful tool for tenants, although it comes with issues that need to be worked through. It is a common practice when tenants need to add or replace roommates or themselves. 

What is Subletting?

Subletting, at its most basic, is adding another person to the rental, part way through it. Instead of changing the original lease or contract, new documents are drafted that add this person until the end of the term determined in the original lease. This is often (but not always) used to replace someone who no longer wishes to live there but cannot end the lease early. 

When subletting, the original tenant is doing one of two things. Either they are adding a roommate, thus splitting the rent or they are replacing themselves. In this case, the entirety of the rent is passed to the new tenant. Most commonly they are used for when subleases are used to replace a member of the lease. 

What does Subletting Mean?

Subletting for the original tenant means that they will not be paying rent any longer and will not be living there anymore. This comes with the associated risk because their name is still on the contracts, so choose your replacement carefully. For the new tenant, it is basically the same as renting regularly from a landlord, but the term is just whatever is left on the original lease. 

Subletting through the eyes of landlords should not mean much. In an ideal world, a sublet will change nothing for landlords. They will still receive the same amount of rent and the lease term should not change.

However, since the landlord has not met the new tenants, they may not be the best fit for the community. To avoid this situation, requiring any new tenants to complete tenant screening is a good idea. For more information on tenant screening, visit this blog post.

How does Subletting Work?

Subletting is done through legally binding agreements. In some states, and for long term leases, the landlord does not need to be involved, unless there is a specific subletting clause in the rental agreement. However, it is always a good idea to keep everyone in the know to get ahead of any issues that may arise in the future. Check local laws in regards to notifying your landlord.

The original tenant is not completely disconnected when the new tenant takes over. The contracts are then set up in one of two ways, either the old tenant is co-tenant or they become a quasi landlord to the new tenant.

Either way, the original tenant still maintains a share of the liability, even though they are no longer living in the property. This is the biggest risk associated with subletting as a tenant. To read more about legal risks visit Wonder.Legal.


Subletting can be an incredibly useful tool for tenants when trying to leave a lease early. However, just as importantly liability can follow that is difficult to manage. Deciding whether or not to sublet is to decide how to balance your situation.