How to Handle a Tenant Who Wants to Sublet
Posted on December 30, 2022 by Rental Property in Propery Management
How to Handle a Tenant Who Wants to Sublet

No matter how much experience you may have as a landlord, it can be challenging to figure out how to handle a tenant who wants to sublet a property. This situation is exacerbated further when a tenant attempts to sublet your property without even informing you. Here’s what you need to know about tenant subletting and some actions you can consider if a tenant attempts to sublet their lease without your approval.

What Is Tenant Subletting?

Tenant subletting is when a tenant wishes to lease their current rental to another tenant. The difference between a sublet vs. rent is that a sublet is an agreement between a subtenant and a tenant, whereas rent refers to the original agreement between the tenant and the property owner or manager

Depending on the agreement, the subtenant takes responsibility for the property for an allotted time and pays part of the rent or the full amount. Suppose, however, that the subtenant is not responsibly occupying the property. In that case, the initial tenant is liable when the subtenant doesn’t pay the rent, causes damages to the property, or breaches any other agreements of the lease. So how does a sublease work? There are two main types of sublets:

  • Short-Term Sublet – If a tenant is going away for a short duration of time, whether it’s on business or vacation or for medical reasons, they may opt for a short-term sublet where a subtenant will take control of the rental for a few weeks to a few months. In these cases, the subtenant will only take control of the lease until the primary tenant returns.
  • Long-Term Sublet – Also referred to as a permanent sublet, this happens if a primary tenant is permanently moving out and finds a subtenant to take over for the remainder of the lease agreement. This subtenant’s agreement with the tenant is then considered an “assignment” or “assigned lease.”

How to Handle Tenant Subletting

The process of a tenant subletting a property to another individual isn’t always a negative thing, but there are certainly specific measures that should be taken to ensure a positive outcome for both ends of the lease agreement. Understanding how to handle a tenant who wants to sublet comes down to the landlord’s knowledge of the situation, especially when they haven’t been informed beforehand. If a tenant has informed a landlord that they wish to sublet, certain actions a landlord should take include:

  • Specifying in Lease – If you wish not to have subleasing allowed in any fashion, make sure that it is clear in your lease. That way, if a tenant does attempt to sublet without your permission, you can legally prevent the action and potentially end the lease contract early if necessary.
  • Screening Subtenants – If a landlord agrees to sublet a property, it becomes the responsibility of the primary tenant to screen their subtenant. Still, a landlord has every right to ensure that this subtenant is responsible and reliable. They can either conduct a short interview or ask their primary tenant plenty of questions regarding this new individual. If the primary tenant refuses to abide by these requests, a landlord has every right to cancel the sublease.
  • Clarify Payment Process – If a subtenant has been screened and cleared to sublease a property, a landlord should make sure that they understand the payment process for rent. Be clear on who pays who, whether it’s the subtenant giving the rent to the primary tenant to relay to the landlord or if the subtenant will pay the landlord directly. This can often get complicated if not made clear beforehand.
  • Highlight Responsibilities and Liabilities – Always make sure that the primary tenant and subtenant are aware of who’s responsible for potential damages or breaches of the lease. Landlords should ask directly who will be liable for such things, so they can act accordingly if any problems arise.

Tenant Subletting Without Approval

If you determine that there is a tenant subletting without your approval, here are some actions you should consider taking:

  • Enforce Policy – If your lease has a clause that forbids subleasing, then you shouldn’t hesitate to enforce such a policy. While you should send an official notice asking the primary tenant to comply, it doesn’t mean you need to threaten them with eviction, even though you have every right to do so. Instead, find common ground and see if you can come to an agreement before vacating your property and losing rental payments in the process.
  • Let It Happen with Caution – If you come to the realization that a tenant has been subleasing your property and there haven’t been any problems, you can simply let it continue, albeit with a fair amount of caution. You should still take the steps necessary to avoid legal complications, such as having the subtenant sign part of the lease or have them sign a document permitting this situation.

Need Help With Property Management?

At SLT Properties, we offer worry-free property management services for property owners and landlords. If you need assistance with your property in the Greensboro or Triad area of North Carolina, don’t hesitate to contact us today.