Subletting Vs. Subleasing: The Ultimate Explainer For NYC

People come to New York for different reasons.

Some come here to study, some for work, and others for culture, food, nightlife, and sightseeing.

Whatever the reason, there is a constant stream of people in and out of the Big Apple.

As a result, the demand for housing in New York is enormous and finding the right one can be challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the city’s real estate jargon.

Subletting and subleasing are terms you typically find in rental or lease agreements in New York.

The two terms are often used interchangeably. In reality, however, they are very different and can have significant financial and legal implications if you don’t understand them properly.

To better understand them, here is a complete guide to subletting vs. subleasing in NYC.

What Is Subletting



Subletting means assigning a rental lease to a new tenant. It invalidates the original lease and releases the former tenant from further obligations.

If you sublet an apartment, you take over the lease from the first tenant. Typically, you sign an entirely new lease with the landlord, pay rent directly to the landlord, and assume full responsibility for the property.

Subletting an apartment creates an entirely new contractual relationship between you (the new tenant) and the landlord.

An apartment can be sublet for many reasons.

Most of the time, tenants’ lifestyle changes, and they are forced to leave the apartment permanently before the lease expires.

Subletting helps them to avoid the fees associated with terminating a rental lease prematurely.

Besides, it makes no sense to pay for an empty apartment. So finding a new tenant for the apartment is a way of recouping some of these costs.

How Does Subletting Work?

How Does Subletting Work


There are two ways to subletting an apartment in New York.

The first option is signing a new lease with the landlord.

Essentially, the original tenant will present you to their landlord. You must have a good profile (meet the landlord rental requirements).

The landlord will evaluate you and agree to the lease if you meet all their requirements. They will then release the first tenant from the lease (and potential liability) before offering you a new lease to sign.

You become the new tenant after paying a deposit, signing a lease, and paying rent (as agreed).

The second option is where the tenant finds someone willing to take over the lease for the remaining period.

For example, the rental lease is still on for another three months, and you’re willing to sign a lease for three months. In this case, you will be presented to the landlord, who will transfer the lease to you.

Note that with the second option, you will only take over the lease for the remaining period of the lease (three months). The terms and conditions of the lease can remain the same as with the original tenant.

If the lease expires (after three months), the landlord may find another tenant or, if you are willing, offer you a new lease.

What Is A Sublease



Generally, a sublease is when you rent a room, part of an apartment, or the entire apartment from someone already a tenant.

So you become the new tenant or roommate, also known as a sublessee, but you are not included in the rental lease.

With a sublease, you pay rent to the original tenant, also known as the sublessor, and abide by the lease’s terms. However, the sublessor retains all rights to the property and responsibility for the lease.

For example, if the sublessor owes rent arrears, the landlord can sue them, not you (the sublessee). Or if there is damage to the property, the sublessor is liable, not you, regardless of who caused it.

A sublease is an excellent option for anyone looking for a temporary place to stay in New York City. It offers benefits that go beyond traditional roommate situations.

Both parties spend less by renting a sublease space and sharing the cost of living. Subleasing a space, such as an extra bedroom, provides low-cost space for the sublessee and allows the sublessor to earn money.

How A Sublease Works

Subleasing works in two ways: first, the sublessor may sign the lease, let someone else reside in the apartment, and pay the rent.

Often, tenants do this because they will be away for a set period (usually 1-12 months) to return.

Sometimes, this sublease doesn’t require a sublease agreement between the tenant and the subtenant.

Nevertheless, it’s often considered a good deal because tenants usually look for a way out. If a tenant is desperate, they may pay part of the rent or even let you take over the whole apartment while they’re away.

The second form of subleasing is when the original tenant rents out a room or space in the apartment to someone else. In this case, you become just a new roommate not included in the lease.

However, you must be careful with this subleasing, as it’s not always allowed. You and the primary tenant can be evicted if the landlord/manager finds out about this arrangement.

Subletting Vs. Subleasing-Which Is Better?

Subletting Vs. Subleasing Which Is Better


To determine whether subletting or subleasing an apartment in New York is better, you need to know the differences between the two.

Below you’ll find the critical differences between subletting and subleasing:

  • In a sublet, you deal directly with the landlord, while in a sublease; the original tenant is your landlord. So you direct all fees and concerns directly to them.
  • With a sublet, you sign a completely new lease with the landlord. In contrast, with a sublease, you sign a contract with the original tenant.
  • Under sublet, the landlord can terminate the lease with the original tenant, and you still stay in the apartment. However, in the case of a sublease, termination of the lease affects both the sublessor and sublessee.
  • In subletting, the subtenant is responsible for the apartment under the agreement with the landlord, while in a sublease, the original tenant is responsible for the lease and potential liability.
  • Often, you will rent an empty apartment in a sublet arrangement as the renter leaves with all of their furniture.

In a sublease, on the other hand, the apartment is usually already furnished. You share all the amenities in the apartment with the original tenant. However, you can also bring some things to make your stay comfortable.

So which is better?

Subletting and subleasing come into play when you want to rent an apartment on short notice.

From a subtenant’s perspective, subletting is a good option if:

  • You want sole rights to the apartment.
  • You want to avoid trouble because of illegal renting (when an apartment is rented without the landlord’s consent).
  • You don’t want to deal with a third party. For example, if there are problems with the apartment and you need to be able to resolve them directly with the landlord or property management.

On the other hand, subleasing is suitable if:

  • You’re staying in New York for less than a month.
  • You want a furnished apartment.
  • You’re looking for cheap accommodation.
  • You don’t want to stay in a hotel during your vacation in New York.
  • You don’t want to live alone in a new area, even if it’s only for a short time.

From a renter’s perspective, subletting is an excellent option if you need to move out before your lease ends or if you can longer afford to stay in the apartment. It takes the financial and legal responsibility off your shoulders.

However, subleasing is the best solution for you if you have extra space and want to turn it into money.

Subleasing your apartment is also an option if you’re traveling and need someone to look after your apartment while you’re away.

Sublease Agreement NYC

Sublease Agreement NYC


A sublease agreement is a legal contract between a tenant of a building and a new tenant who wishes to rent part or the entire unit.

This agreement is usually modeled after the master lease (the original lease between the existing tenant and the landlord).

Original tenants are legally liable for the apartment under a master lease and are responsible for its upkeep.

Conversely, a written agreement is entered between a “sublessor” and “sublessee” in a sublease.”

While every sublease agreement is unique, they all must incorporate some key terms to be legally binding.

These terms are:

  • Location and description of the apartment
  • Name and address of the sublessor
  • Name and address of the sublessee
  • The start and end date of the sublease agreement
  • Terms and conditions of the master lease
  • Amount of rent due
  • Terms and conditions of payment
  • Acknowledgments of both parties

The most important thing to remember about a sublease is the rules of the main lease.

As a subtenant, you must comply with these rules while you live in the apartment.

If you break the written agreement and the lease is violated in any way, the landlord’s punishment to the sublessor will also affect you.

For example, if a violation results in a notice of eviction, your sublease automatically becomes void, as you will also have to move out.

Subtenant Rights NYC

If renting an apartment in New York as a subtenant, you may not be sure about your rights and the difficulties that may arise.

Here’s some helpful information to help clarify.

  • If your name is on the lease, you have the right to stay in your apartment until the lease expires. Until then, the landlord can only evict you by court order.
  • If you aren’t on the lease, you can easily be kicked out of the apartment if the tenant who rented the apartment moves out.
  • As a subtenant, you have the sole right to use the apartment that’s rented to you.

For example, if you decide to sublet all or part of your subleased apartment, you give up ownership of all or part of the apartment and can only enter it with the permission of the co-tenant.

  • You can use the rented space, whether the whole apartment or part of it, as a takeaway, but only if the landlord allows it.
  • As a subtenant, you’re entitled to all of the landlord’s obligations under the master lease, including, but not limited to, the landlord’s obligations to repair and restore the apartment.
  • You have the right to privacy in your leased space.

In all situations involving subleasing and subletting, I recommend you consult with a New York real estate expert. Regardless of which side of the transaction you’re on. The expert can advise you on your case and help negotiate the best deal for you.

Is Subletting In NYC Legal?




According to New City Sublet Laws, it is perfectly legal to sublet an apartment if you live in a building with four or more units.

However, there are some strict restrictions on short-term rentals in the city.

For example, tenants in public housing and buildings with rent control aren’t allowed to sublet their apartments.

Those covered by the Section 8 program are also not allowed to sublet their apartments.

In addition, tenants of co-op and condo apartments may not sublet or violate the bylaws of their buildings.

Besides, people are only allowed to sublet an apartment in New York if they plan to return to the apartment at the end of the sublease.

Further, the city has a “multiple dwelling” law that allows subleases only for a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 2 years.

So, pay attention to these restrictions when looking for an apartment for short-term rent.

Remember that those allowed to sublet must get permission from their landlord.

Otherwise, they risk breaking the lease, leading to hefty fines, penalties, or eviction. It doesn’t matter if you pay the rent, contribute to the utilities, or live with them for free.

Subletting is usually noted in the master lease, but even if it’s not, you shouldn’t assume it’s okay to sublet without the landlord’s permission.

How To Find A Sublet In NYC



Finding a sublet in NYC is difficult, but not impossible.

You need to consider a few things before you start looking for a sublet. These include:

  • Your needs and requirements for the apartment
  • Length of your stay
  • Your budget
  • Location of the sublet

Once you have all these points sorted out, you can start looking for a spot.

The best and safest places to look for a sublet in NYC are formal websites with management and a feedback system.

Craigslist, Roomi, Spareroom, Leasebreak, Facebook Marketplace, and Airbnb are some authoritative sites you can use to find a sublet in New York.

Regular classifieds are also OK, except you can’t see who else has rented from that host.

The advantage of an official members-only website is the feedback system and pictures that usually accompany each ad. You’re not left in the dark about your host or the place you’re renting.

Still, it pays to be careful while using online listings to find a sublet in NYC.

For example, never blindly transfer money until you see what you’re paying and whether the deal is legit. Also, look for real photos when looking at listings. Most importantly, read reviews, especially if you’re searching on Airbnb.

Final say

As you can see, there is a subtle but very significant difference between subletting and subleasing an apartment in New York.

But no matter your choice, you can save hundreds of dollars on accommodation costs, especially if you’re traveling alone.

These short-term arrangements are the perfect solution if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay.

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