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Subletting FAQ

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Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord-tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

In addition: The NYS Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Rent Administration (DHCR) also offers useful information on their own FAQ page as well as on their Forms and Information by Topic page.

• NYC.gov has a Buildings and Property FAQ that may provide useful answers.

• The New York Times regularly answers questions from rent stabilized tenants about various housing issues in their Ask Real Estate column.


Am I legally entitled to sublet my rent stabilized apartment?

You are entitled to request permission to sublet from the owner, and the owner may not unreasonably refuse such permission. However, you must inform the owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, no less than 30 days prior to the proposed subletting. Your request must contain the following:

  • the term of the sublease
  • the name of the proposed sublessee
  • the business and permanent home address of the proposed sublessee
  • the reason for the sublet request
  • your address for the term of the sublease
  • written consent from any co-tenant or guarantor on the lease
  • a copy of the proposed sublease (along with a copy of your lease, if available) acknowledged by the tenant and subtenant as a true copy of the sublease

The landlord has ten days to ask for additional information which you must provide so long as the request is not unduly burdensome. If the landlord fails to respond to the sublet request within 30 days, then a failure to respond is deemed consent. If the landlord unreasonably withholds consent the tenant may proceed with the sublet. If the owner commences a legal action challenging the sublet and the tenant prevails in demonstrating that the withholding of approval was unreasonable or that the landlord acted in bad faith, the tenant may recover his or her attorney's fees.

The owner is also entitled to charge you a sublet allowance (10% in recent years, but click here for the current rent guidelines) effective with the commencement of the sublet, and which is rescinded once the subtenancy ends and the prime tenant returns. You may pass this sublet allowance along to the subtenant plus up to an additional 10% (at the prime tenant's discretion) if the unit is furnished.

Be sure to follow all of the rules in subletting. For detailed information, check out DHCR Fact Sheet #7.

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I am subletting - Can I take over the lease?

Under state law, the owner must provide written consent before the primary tenant can "assign" (transfer) the lease to you. The owner does not need to give you a reason if he or she does not consent to the assignment. For detailed information, check out DHCR Fact Sheet #7.

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I just signed a lease renewal for my rent stabilized apartment but I may also buy a new residence - If I need to, how do I sublet my apartment?

As a rent stabilized tenant you have the right to sublet your apartment under certain circumstances (see the 1st question above) but you must always maintain that apartment as your primary residence. For example, if you wish to sublet while you take a temporary job assignment, or you are in the military service or college, or you expect to spend four months wintering in Florida, you may still be considered a primary resident. You may not sublet if you have another primary residence. If you do, the landlord may successfully terminate your tenancy in court. This could be expensive. If your lease has an attorneys fees clause and you lose, you may have to pay the landlord's attorneys fees.

For more information on subletting a rent stabilized apartment see DHCR Fact Sheet #7.

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My landlord denied my request to sublet without reasonable grounds - What is the next step?

Under the law a landlord cannot unreasonably withhold the right to sublet. However, the landlord can refuse to sublet with good reason. For instance, if the proposed tenant has a poor credit history, is unemployed, etc. the landlord could refuse to sublet. If you proceed with a sublet after it has been reasonably rejected by the landlord, you may face eviction. Such breaches of the lease are "curable" however. If you lose the case you may keep the apartment by having the subtenant promptly move out (usually within ten days of judgment). Even if you cure, you may still have to pay the landlord's attorney's fees if your lease has an attorney's fees clause.

On the other hand, if the landlord refused to sublet simply because of the tenant's race, ethnicity, religion, etc. this would not be a proper reason. Or, if the landlord did not provide a reason or provided a reason that is clearly spurious, you could proceed with the sublet.

If a proposed subtenant has been unreasonably refused, you may proceed with the sublet and defend any challenge brought by the landlord. If the court agrees with you, you can recover your attorney's fees. For more information on housing court in New York City, see our two resources on housing court here and here.

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I'm subletting and I found out I'm being overcharged - What can I do?

If your apartment is rent-stabilized, you can contact the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the state agency that administers the rent laws, at 718-739-6400.

According to the rent stabilization laws, the prime tenant may not demand "key money" or overcharge the subtenant (you). If the prime tenant overcharges, you may file a "Tenant's Complaint of Rent Overcharge and/or Excess Security Deposit" (DHCR Form RA-89). If DHCR finds that the prime tenant has deliberately overcharged you, then s/he may be required to refund to you three times the overcharge. Check out DHCR Fact Sheet #7.

If your apartment is not rent-stabilized, the following organizations may be able to assist you:

  • NYS Attorney General's Office (212) 416-8000
  • NYS Tenant & Neighbors Coalition (212) 608-4320
  • M.E.T. Council (212) 979-6238

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Disclaimer: By providing answers to frequently asked questions, the staff of the Rent Guidelines Board attempts to clarify the often complex programs and regulations governing landlord-tenant relations in NYC. However, the information provided herein does not represent official policies or opinions of the City of New York or the Rent Guidelines Board nor should this information be used to substitute for advice of legal counsel.

In addition: The NYS Homes and Community Renewal's Office of Rent Administration (DHCR) also offers useful information on their own FAQ page as well as on their Forms and Information by Topic page.

• NYC.gov has a Buildings and Property FAQ that may provide useful answers.

• The New York Times regularly answers questions from rent stabilized tenants about various housing issues in their Ask Real Estate column.

RGB Page Updated 9/23/2016


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