Do you want to earn some extra cash this holiday season in NYC while you visit your family back home? Then subletting your apartment is something to consider, though there are some things to learn as a first-time subletter. Subletting in NYC is a great way to make money, but some legal restrictions can make it a difficult side hustle.
In fact, you might run into serious complications if you don't understand the laws or the agreement first. So before you sublet your apartment, it’s best to refer to our first-time renter’s guide to subletting in NYC.
What is subletting?
Subletting is the act of re-renting a property by an existing tenant to another individual during the portion of the existing tenant’s lease. It’s essentially where you, as a renter, rent out the apartment to someone else while you’re paying rent to the landlord. Of course, once you do sublet, you collect the rent money from the third party that’s signed the sublease.
So why would you want to do that? Well, it’s a great way to save money if you're planning on traveling for a while. There's no point in leaving the place unoccupied and wasting money on rent, so subletting ensures rent is taken care of by the new temporary tenant.
A sublease is a legal contract between you (the existing tenant) and the new renter. This contract can allow another renter to stay in your apartment while the original lease is in your name. But there are certain things you need to consider before you do this.
Unfortunately, subletting is not legal in certain states. You'll need to understand the policies of the state you live in. Be sure there is no conflict with the agreement you have with your landlord.
Is subletting in NYC legal?
Subletting is legal in NYC. However, there are certain restrictions to navigate before you put ads on Craigslist. For example, you can only sublet your NYC apartment if the building has four or more units.
Additionally, some tough restrictions make it difficult to sublease to a short-term resident. You can only sublet in NYC if you, as the original tenant, plan to return to the apartment at the end of the sublease. So, this is not a viable option if you're looking to run a business like an Airbnb or if you want to keep retaining the renter once the sublease comes to an end.
NYC has a set of other laws that prevent you from subletting in certain circumstances. According to New York City subleasing laws, you won’t be able to sublet your apartment if you live in public housing or if you receive section 8 public assistance. The city also has a “multiple dwelling” law that states that any sublease must meet a minimum term of 30 days and a maximum term of 2 years.
So, how can I sublet in NYC?
Once you’ve researched and ensured that you can legally sublet your NYC unit, you should follow these steps.
Talk to your landlord
First and foremost, you’ll have to get permission from your landlord to sublet your NYC room/unit. Unfortunately, a casual conversation or a text message won’t suffice. You’ll have to send a formal request to your landlord by certified mail. Most importantly, you will have to provide a valid reason for subleasing the room.
Before you choose to do this, you should check the agreement you have with the landlord to see if there are any restrictions.
Usually, there are two types of rental contracts that you might have signed with your landlord: a secure or flexible contract. A flexible contact will give you permission to rent part of the apartment or house. But you'll still have to send a request to the landlord.
If you’re dealing with a rigid contract, you will be in breach of terms if you sublet it. This can land you in some legal hot water - including risk of eviction. So always remember to ask for permission.
Advertise your room
Once your landlord has signed off on the sublease, you can start the search for potential renters. Now, it’s on you to find someone reliable. So seedy sites or classifieds are not the places to find reliable tenants. Look for Facebook groups or better yet, hold an open house. There are also some good, reliable third-party sites out there.
Ideally, you should meet the tenant in advance and ensure there are no issues. The closer you get to the holiday or your trip, the more difficult it will get for you to manage everything. If you can, introduce the renter to the landlord, so they both feel comfortable and can easily communicate while you're away.
Ensure there’s a paper trail and get all the necessary signatures
Other than charging a fair price, ensure there's a paper trail for everything. That means no wire transfers or cash - only checks. From your landlord’s written permission to the renter’s contract, ensure that you get all the necessary signatures. We also recommend that you mention the exact duration of the sublease and renew it accordingly.
Ask for a safety deposit
Like how your landlord asked you for a safety deposit, you’ll have to do the same for the renter. This contingency is especially important because you as the existing tenant are responsible for keeping the place damage-free. Once this is done, you should send over a copy of the agreement to the landlord and get the place ready for the subletter.
Pros and Cons of Subletting in NYC
When it comes to the pros of subletting in NYC, there are definitely some advantages. For example, someone else will pay your rent while you’re gone and you could even earn some supplemental income from the rent money. Additionally, you won't have to leave your beloved apartment just because you’re traveling for a few months. When this works well, you also benefit from having someone looking after your place while you're gone.
However, there are some disadvantages. If you don't rent to someone you trust, you might face issues such as theft, property damage and rent defaults. If your tenant violates the terms of your lease, then the landlord may evict you instead. Subletting in NYC does come with its fair share of risks, but with due diligence, you can enjoy more flexibility and savings.
A friendly note from our lawyers:
*All information and content is for general informational purposes only. The information provided here is not legal advice. Readers should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter. No reader, user, or browser of this site should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.