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Allowing a Tenant to Sublet an Apartment, Is it Wise?

written by: theMallorys•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 9/16/2010

If you’re asking the question, “Should I allow a tenant to sublet an apartment?" you should consider the pros and cons of this option. While it may be easier to find a renter if you allow subletting, there are some dangers to be aware of. Learn about the pros and cons letting tenants sublet.

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    Subletting Can Be Tricky One of the initial questions that comes to mind as a landlord, after how much to charge for rent, is “Should I allow a tenant to sublet an apartment?" Tenants don’t have a legal right to sublet any apartment they rent. It’s within your discretion as a landlord to allow or disallow subletting. There are pros and cons that you should be aware of, and whether it’s wise to allow your tenant to sublet the apartment becomes clear when you weigh these advantages and disadvantages.

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    Pros of Allowing a Tenant to Sublet

    A lease agreement that allows subletting is more marketable to tenants, for a number of reasons. The benefits include:

    • Someone can pay the rent if the tenant travels for extended periods
    • The tenant can earn extra money during the summer months or at other times by subletting the apartment
    • The physical presence of a sub-tenant protects the apartment if your tenant travels abroad

    You may be able to rent your unit faster and for more money if you allow tenants to sublease, because of the benefits to them. Your tenants in turn may charge rent to the sub-tenant that’s more than the rent you require, and make a small profit as a result.

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    Cons of Allowing a Tenant to Sublet

    Subletting offers little benefit to the landlord, and often the arrangement produces more hassle to the landlord. Some of the disadvantages to subletting include:

    • Limited or no ability to choose the sub-tenant renting your room or apartment
    • A sub-tenant can trash the apartment because the tenant failed to screen and select the right one
    • May end up with multiple sub-tenants renting the apartment at various times, and each presents a risk of damaging the apartment
    • You have to evict two tenants if it comes to that: The tenant and the sub-tenant
    • The tenant owes a duty to the landlord, but the sub-tenant doesn’t

    You can be a successful landlord if you build and foster good relationships with your tenant. It’s difficult to do that with sub-tenants who will be renting for a short period of time. With these disadvantages in mind, the answer to “Should I allow a tenant to sublet an apartment?" is often “No."

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    Impact of Contracts

    If you decide to permit your tenant to sublet, then you should get the terms and conditions in writing. The contract does provide some protection, but in reality you may not be able to enforce it in some cases. For example, if a sub-tenant steals furniture from the apartment that you provided and flees to another state, you’re left with suing the tenant. If the tenant has little or no assets to go after, then it doesn’t matter if the agreement was in writing. You’re out of furniture and have no way to recover it from the tenant or sub-tenant. It’s better to avoid the situation in the first place, by finding a good tenant and building a relationship with them.

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    Many landlords sublet their apartments with the knowledge that they are taking a huge risk, and they set aside funds for potential financial losses. They also carry the appropriate insurance policies and amounts in the event they end up with a bad sub-tenant. Perhaps a better question to ask than “Should I allow a tenant to sublet an apartment?" is the question, “Can I afford to allow a tenant to sublet?"

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