Does an illegal sublet violate and void a lease?

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Does an illegal sublet violate and void a lease?

I share an apartment with 3 people and 1 of my roommates signed the lease from the landlord which states that, “…not to assign or sublet said Premises or any part thereof, nor transfer possession or occupancy thereof to any other person or persons…”. My roommate then took the same lease from the landlord, wrote “sublease” on top instead of “lease”, and made me sign it. My question is does the fact the the original lease from the landlord which stated no subletting was allowed make my lease from my roommate, which also states it, null and void?

Asked on April 11, 2011 under Real Estate Law, District of Columbia

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The original lease is still valid, but since the sublease is prohibited, the landlord could treat the sublease as a breach of the lease.  The original tenant and the sublessee (you) would be liable for a breach of the lease.  The landlord could sue the original tenant and/or the sublessee.  If the rent isn't paid by the original tenant due to the sublease, the landlord could sue the tenant and/or the sublessee.  The landlord could pursue eviction for breach of the lease.  The sublease you signed is not null and void between you and the tenant even though the original lease prohibits a sublease.  You could argue that it is null and void because the original lease prohibits sublease.  Since your roommate "made you sign" the sublease, you could argue that it is null and void because you were coerced into signing.  Signing under duress would be a defense to enforcement of the sublease by your roommate against you.

 

 


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