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What does subleasing a rental property entail?

A New York City tenant who signs a rental agreement likely plans to use the rental property for the full term of the lease. However, sometimes situations arise in which a tenant wishes to sublease a property. While common, subleasing can raise complex issues between landlords and tenants that may lead to landlord-tenant disputes if not handled properly.

A tenant who sublets a property transfers his or her legal interest in the property to another person. In a sublease, a tenant, known as the prime tenant, will be transferring less than his full interest in an apartment to a subtenant.

Disputes may arise between landlords and tenants when tenants fail to follow the proper procedure for subletting. In New York City, those tenants who live in apartment buildings which have at least four apartments have the right to sublease if they have their landlord's advance consent. Landlords cannot restrict tenants' right to sublease completely, but they do have the right to deny a sublease based on reasonable grounds. Significantly, in the event a landlord denies a sublease on unreasonable grounds, a tenant may still sublease. Whether grounds for denial are reasonable or unreasonable is certainly an area from which landlord-tenant disputes may arise.

It is important to note that a tenant who acquires consent from a landlord to sublease is still liable to his or her landlord for rent payments and other obligations of the lease agreement. A tenant who wishes to obtain consent from a landlord to sublease must follow a carefully prescribed process under New York law, including submitting a written request regarding the potential subleasing to his or her landlord.

A landlord or tenant who is facing a dispute regarding a subleasing issue may wish to consult with an attorney who may be able to guide the parties to a potential resolution.

Source: ag.ny.gov, "Tenants' Rights Guide," accessed July 22, 2016

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