Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jan 20, 2020

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A subtenant is a person who has the right to use and occupy rental property leased by a tenant from a landlord. A subtenant has responsibilities to both the landlord and the tenant. A tenant can sublet rental property to a subtenant, but often must obtain the prior consent of the landlord. The tenant still remains responsible for payment of rent to the landlord and any damages to the property caused by the subtenant.

Understanding the Rules – Tenant vs. Subtenant

When you enter into an agreement as a subtenant, it is imperative that you understand exactly what rules and legal protections are available to you. It is also important that you ensure the landlord is on board with what you are doing. There are some apartment leases that specify that a tenant is not allowed to sublet his or her apartment, and if you sublet an apartment illegally then you could find yourself without some of the protections that are in place for tenants.

For example, if you sublet illegally, you could have few or no rights against the landlord since your agreement is only with the tenant and it is an agreement that the landlord has already said in the original lease would not be valid. Since you have limited or no tenants’ rights against the landlord in many of these instances, you could find yourself being evicted on short notice or dealing with other issues based on your illegal status.

Further, aside from landlord/tenant rules imposed by a lease, there may also be rules on subletting imposed by a municipality. For example, if the apartment is rent controlled, there may be restrictions on when and how subletting may take place.

In any case, before you sublet an apartment you will want to speak to an attorney who can help you to make sure you are not entering into a subtenancy situation that is going to cause you nothing but problems in the long run.