The Life of a Subletter:  7 Things Students Should Know

Monday, June 27, 2016

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Entrance into a sublease agreement can be an enlightening, yet unconventional rental situation. For first time subletters, the experience can potentially cause some ambivalent feelings, being that a subletter (or sublessee)’ involves living somewhere that your name isn’t actually on the lease. You’re technically not a ‘tenant’ in the eyes of the original lease agreement; rather, you’re a subtenant’. As well, subtenants may feel a bit awkward at first, particularly when entering a sublet with someone else’s roommates; whom may or may not have had a say in agreeing to have you as their new ‘sub-roommate’.


Despite all this, subletting is a very economic way to save money as a student on a tight budget! In many college and university markets, property managers and landlords prefer a 12-month lease agreement, and it’s uncommon to find more flexible leases which align with the academic year. For this reason, many students often seek to sublet their accommodation when they do not inhabit the unit, typically over the summer months.


If you’re a student who is considering subletting, there are a few important things to consider beforehand.


  1. Make sure the original tenant has consent to sublet, before moving in.

    While a student subletter may feel that it is not their responsibility to seek approval from the landlord (and it technically isn’t), they should still ensure the original tenant has received consent to sublet. While the subletter would not be held accountable, he/she could be evicted with little or no notice, if the original tenant did not receive authorization to sublet. It’s recommended to ask the original tenant and confirm that permission has been given.

  2. The original tenant will be the one responsible for paying rent to the landlord.

    Unless otherwise specified (and approved by the landlord), the original tenant is responsible for paying rent to the landlord. However, if the original tenant was not transferring the money to the landlord, it could result in the subletter being evicted.

  3. The landlord has no contractual relationship with the subletter.

    This point is of particular importance! The subletter has no written contract or agreement with the landlord, so the landlord is under no legal obligation to communicate directly with the subletter. All correspondence would go through the original tenant to the landlord.

  4. In most cases, the original tenant cannot charge the subtenant more than the original rental rate.

    There are a few exceptions to this, but in most cases, the original tenant cannot legally charge the subtenant more than the rent specified in the lease agreement.  In many cases though, sublets will actually be offered at a cheaper rental rate, in order to be more competitive. This is especially true during the summer months, when there are a significant amount of sublets on the market.

  5. In most cases, the original tenant does have the authority to evict a subletter, but they must go through the formal eviction process.

    The original tenant usually has the authority to launch eviction proceedings, if a subletter is violating the sublease agreement. However, proper eviction notice would need to be provided.

    If a landlord wishes to evict a subletter, the original tenant’s right to sublet the rental would need to be terminated first, which usually means the original tenant would need to be evicted beforehand. For more information about evicting subtenants, read FindLaw’s article.
  6. A person who is not listed on the lease technically cannot sublet, unless receiving written consent from the master tenant.

    In some cases, one person may sign the lease on behalf of other roommates who do not sign the lease; this person becomes the ‘master tenant’ who relays rental payment to the landlord for everyone. This essentially means that the master tenant has control over anything and is the only authorized person to deal with the lease agreement or sublets.

    If one of the roommates wishes to sublet a room, approval must be received from the master tenant first, who must already have permission to sublet from the landlord (usually there is a lease section, specifically about subletting).

  7. A sublease agreement is recommended for all parties involved.

    It’s always best to have contractual obligations and responsibilities in writing, especially with rental properties. An original lease or sublease agreement is advised. In some cases, a subletter won’t sign a formal document because the original tenant does not supply one. In such circumstances, the subtenant should take the initiative to create the sublease document.

SEE ALSO:  How to Write a Sublease Agreement

The Team