Should You Allow Subleases or Assignments at Your Rental Property?

As the landlord, you may be faced with some occupancy decisions. A resident may approach you and request the right to assign or sublet his interest in the rental unit.

  • If you allow an assignment, the new resident takes over all aspects of the original resident’s rental contract, and you can take legal action directly against the new resident if that ever becomes necessary. In effect, the assignment of a lease substitutes another person for the original resident, including all the legal obligations for which the original resident was responsible.

    Of course, you would only consider allowing a departing resident to assign his rental contract after following your normal applicant screening process and determining the proposed new resident is qualified.

  • Subleases are a relationship solely between your resident and the new resident. You can’t directly sue the new resident for unpaid rent or damage to the property; all you can do is go after the original resident. In the sublease situation, the sublessee has no obligations, legal or otherwise, to you. Your legal relationship continues only with the resident.

Residents usually only request the right to assign or sublet when they must suddenly relocate for personal or professional reasons. Typically, rental contracts prohibit subleases because you want to have a direct relationship with the occupant. Therefore, having a provision in your lease that absolutely prevents subleasing is extremely important.

Assignments are superior to subleases because they give you the opportunity to screen and approve the new resident’s application and create a legally binding landlord-resident relationship.

Subleases needlessly complicate the landlord-resident relationship and prevent you from directly taking legal action against the occupant of your premises.

Doing so erodes your ability to respond to situations in which the new occupant is violating lease terms, such as disturbing neighbors or not following policies and rules for parking or the proper use of the common area pool or spa. If the proposed occupant meets all your rental criteria, propose terminating the current rental contract and entering into a new one with him.

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