Often, people need to break the leases on their houses or apartments for either professional or personal reasons. Terminating a lease early can carry penalties, which may be mitigated by finding someone to take over the original lease. If you are prepared to take over someone's lease, here's what you need to know before signing.
A lease is a contract between a landlord and tenant, but a sublease, which allows you to take over someone's lease, is a contract between a tenant and a third party.
Qualifying for a Sublease
Clarify that the tenant has permission from the landlord to sublease, or sublet, the house or apartment. All rental contracts do not allow subleases. Verify this in the tenant's contract or by speaking directly to the landlord. You can reduce your risk of subleasing by meeting with the landlord in person and obtaining written permission.
Get it in Writing
Find a subleasing contract that is mutually agreeable to both you and the tenant that spells out all terms and provisions. The Internet Legal Research Group has a sublet form for every state. Print out the form for your state. Ensure you have more than one contact number for the tenant in case any problems or misunderstandings arise.
Direct Lease Option
If the landlord considers you creditworthy, you may be able to draft a new lease with the landlord instead of taking over someone else's lease through an "assignment of lease." This could mitigate any misunderstandings that often arise with three parties. An assignment of lease for a third party typically is for a shorter term such as the duration that's left on a tenant's existing lease.
Providing Documents and Other Information
Be prepared to provide documentation of personal information, driver's license, Social Security number and verification of income and assets, all of which will be required on the sublease. These will be used to run a credit report and substantiate your creditworthiness. If you have hiccups on your credit, provide a letter of explanation and even letters of reference from colleagues or friends. You'll also need to supply contact information for your current landlord or lienholder.
Reviewing All the Contract Details
Be absolutely clear with the tenant and landlord about when the term ends, what happens to the tenant's security deposit and who is responsible for any damages that may occur during your sub-tenancy period. You may need to provide your own security deposit in the event of early termination or damages. Spell out what happens to your deposit at the end of the lease term.
Taking Care of Rental Payments
Clarify when the rent is due, by what method, to whom the rent should be paid -- whether the tenant or the landlord -- and where payment needs to be delivered.
- Apartment Search: A Beginner's Guide to Taking Over Someone's Lease
- NOLO: Can I Transfer My Lease to a New Tenant?
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Tenancy at Sufferance." Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.
- New York State Unified Court System. "Tenant Questions & Answers in Holdover Eviction Cases." Accessed Sept. 11, 2020.
- If the landlord considers you creditworthy, you may be able to draft a new lease with the landlord instead of taking over someone else's. This could mitigate any misunderstandings that often arise with three parties.
- Verify that the landlord permits you taking over the lease. Reduce the risk by meeting with the landlord in person and obtaining written permission.
- Ensure you have more than one contact number for the tenant in case any problems or misunderstandings arise.
By age 10, Jeff Zhorne was writing for the local newspaper in East Texas. He earned scholarships in journalism, worked on college newspapers and was editor of various publications in Los Angeles beginning in 1982. In 2000 he wrote "The Everything Guide to Fly-Fishing" (Adams Media, New York). He is published in "San Marino Tribune," "Pasadena Living," "Santa Clarita Living" and "LA Daily News."