What Is Subletting?

Subletting is defined as a lease agreement between the original tenant (also known as a sublessor) and a second party, known as a subletter, where the sublessor agrees to sublease (or sublet) some or all of the lease space. The ability to sublet or not should be included in the original lease agreement between the sublessor and the landlord, and generally subletters must be approved by the landlord.

In a sublease agreement, the subletter would pay a certain amount to the original tenant, who is responsible for paying the lease to the landlord. The terms of the sublease agreement are separate from the original lease agreement between the sublessor and the landlord, but the sublessor cannot legally assign rights to a sublessee that they don’t already hold under the terms of their own lease or rental arrangement with the landlord.

Subletting: Take Caution to Avoid Risk

While a sublease agreement is separate from the original lease, a sublessor is still legally responsible for the terms in their original lease. If a subletter does not pay their rent to the sublessor for example, the sublessor is still responsible to pay the rent to the landlord. Likewise, if the property is damaged beyond the terms defined in the original agreement, the sublessor must also pay for those extra expenses.

For these reasons, sublessors should use caution when deciding to sublease, and carefully choosing who to sublease to. Tenants should seek approval from the landlord to sublease, even if a sublease agreement is already included in the original agreement. Sublessors should also carefully screen sublettors with multiple interviews and references before signing the sublease agreement. While sublessors can create their own sublease agreement, it is safest to use the assistance of a real estate lawyer in the creation of this document.


Return to the main Glossary of Commercial Leasing Terms