Subletting apartments in New York City is a time-honored tradition, but in the era of Airbnb when the city, tenant councils and landlords are cracking down on short-term subletting, what are your rights?
The first thing you need to know is that it is illegal to sublet your apartment for less than 30 days.
If you plan to sublet your apartment for longer than 30 days, you can do so although there are some exceptions:
- Tenants in public housing and subsidized housing can’t sublet
- Tenants in nonprofit or limited profit housing should check their guidelines; they may not be able to sublet
- Tenants in co-op buildings are subject to the building’s by-laws, which may forbid subletting
- Tenants in rent controlled apartments with leases prior to 1971 can’t sublet; tenants in rent stabilized apartments can sublet
- Tenants receiving rent subsidies based on income-eligibility such as Section 8 housing may be violating the terms of their agreement and should check with a lawyer before they sublet
The subletting procedure
Under most conditions, however, you may sublet your apartment. The first action is to send a letter by certified mail to the landlord with return receipt requested asking for permission to sublet. You should include the dates of the sublet, the name of the subtenant, your reason for subletting, your address while you are subletting, a copy of the sublease and a statement signed by you and the subtenant that the copy of the sublease is true and valid.
Your landlord has 10 days to ask for more information, such as the subtenant’s rental history. The landlord then has 30 days – either from the initial notice or the request for additional information – to agree to the sublet or provide reasons for refusal.
Some valid reasons for refusal include:
- Failure to follow proper procedures
- You don’t appear to have a plan to return to the apartment
- The subtenant can’t afford the rent, has a poor credit history, a criminal record or has been previously sued for eviction
If subletting your apartment doesn’t work out, there are other options.
You could try to end your lease early, although most rental contracts don’t allow it.
You could try to assign the remainder of the lease to a new tenant, although landlords can refuse the new tenant and the new tenant cannot automatically renew the lease when it ends.
You could get a roommate, although there are some restrictions on that as well.