How to Sublet an Apartment in New York City without Getting Burned

For any number of reasons, many New York City residents find themselves in a position where they have to figure out how to sublet an apartment. Read on for a brief overview of the process for both renters and owner-residents.

At some point, you may need to figure out how to sublet an apartment in New York City. There are many reasons that you may find yourself in a position where you need to sublet your space. Your company may have just offered you a six-month assignment in its London office. You may have received a grant to study the stick-like zanna tenbrosa bug in Madagascar for the summer. Whatever the reason, it sometimes becomes necessary for New Yorkers to find someone else to take over their leases or stay in their co-ops or condos while they’re out of town. There are plenty of people on the hunt for NYC sublets, so once you determine that you need to sublet your apartment, here’s a brief overview of what you should do next.

I have a rent-stabilized apartment. Can I sublet it out?

Absolutely! You may be one of those people who scored a rent-stabilized apartment, and you may assume that, thanks to all the rules regarding these apartments, subleasing it is a no-no. In fact, you are allowed by law to sublet your rental apartment, whether you’re a person with a standard rental agreement in a regular rental building or you’re someone holding a rent-stabilized lease. When it comes to figuring out how to sublet an apartment, here are some steps you’ll need to take:

  • Send the owner of the unit a letter by certified mail informing him or her of your intent to sublease. In effect, you’re asking for permission to do so, but laws state that landlords must comply with reasonable requests.
  • Include pertinent information in your certified letter, including the name and permanent address of the sublessee, how long you intend the sublease to be for, and the reason you need to sublet the space. Make sure you send the letter at least 30 days before your sublet is supposed to begin.
  • Figure out how long you want the sublease to be. In NYC, you can generally sublease your apartment for up to two years within a four-year period, but it cannot be for a period less than 30 days. Check with a housing lawyer before you start the sublet process. You want to make sure that you’ve dotted all your i’s and crossed all your t’s.

This sounds great! I own my apartment. Surely I can sublet it out as well?

You’d think that would be the case, but an owner-resident usually needs to jump through more hoops than a renter does, especially here in the city. While some co-op boards do allow owner-residents to sublease their apartments at will, many others tack tons of restrictions onto the process, while still others forbid subletting outright. One of the key reasons that many co-op boards limit residents’ abilities to sublet their apartments at will is to protect the other residents in the building. They also want to make sure that sublessees are able to pay the rent during the owner’s absence. If you’re planning on subletting the apartment that you own, do the following:

  • Make sure that subletting is allowed under the terms of your contract.
  • Find out if your sublessee or subtentant needs to undergo a formal credit check similar to the one you may have gone through when you bought the place.
  • See if there are any restrictions in place regarding subletting. Some buildings limit sublets to year-long leases, while others require that you live in the building for a set period of time before subletting, while others place restrictions on the length of subleases.

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