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Are Sublet Fees Legal?

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

If you need to move out from your apartment for some time, you may want to consider subletting. Subletting occurs when a tenant lets another person (subletter) stay in their place for a period of time. Subleasing usually arises when the tenant needs to come back to the rental property after leaving it or needs to move before the lease is up. In a sublease, the original tenant will remain responsible for the terms outlined in the original lease agreement.

Can a Landlord Charge You for Subletting Your Apartment?

It depends on the laws of your state and the terms of your lease. Almost all states allow a landlord to charge a reasonable fee for subletting if it is stipulated in the lease agreement.

Difference Between a Sublease and an Assignment

The main difference between a sublease and an assignment is the responsibility on the original tenant. In an assignment, the original tenant assigns all their interest in the lease to the new tenant. This means the assignee takes the rights and responsibilities of the original tenant.

In a sublease, on the other hand, the original tenant continues to retain the rights and obligations stipulated in the lease.

You May Need to Get Your Landlord's Consent Before You Sublet

If your lease specifically requires you to get your landlord's permission before you can sublet, you must do so. Your landlord can't unreasonably withhold consent.

However, state laws differ on requiring landlords' consent before subletting. In states like Illinois and New York, tenants have the absolute right to sublet their apartment regardless of what the landowner says. In other states, like Texas, you must get the approval of your landowner before you can sublease.

What Options Do You Have to Contest Sublease Fees?

If your landlord is charging unreasonable sublet fees or if there is no mention of subletting fees in the lease agreement, you can contest your landlord's action. In such cases, your landlord may be deemed as unreasonably withholding consent to sublease. Alaska and New York are among the states that do not allow landlords to unreasonably withhold consent.

States Have Different Laws

Landlord-tenant laws differ from one state to another. You should, therefore, do your research on what the law is in your specific state prior to subleasing your apartment.

Additional Resources

Is Your Landlord Violating Your Rights? Talk to an Attorney.

Landlords should not charge sublet fees unless it is expressed in the lease agreement. As a tenant, you have rights that you can legally enforce. If your landlord is charging you sublet fees contrary to your lease agreement, speak to a landlord-tenant attorney to get legal help.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you navigate any landlord-tenant issues.

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