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Four Questions to Ask Before Your Summer Sublet

As the spring semester ends, college students in Columbus and around the country are beginning to look for housing so they can attend classes, start an internship, or work a summer job.  One popular housing solution is the sublease, which allows a tenant to lease their property (such as a room in a shared apartment) to another tenant, rather than requiring the new tenant to deal directly with the landlord for the summer.

The most important thing for either party to do before signing a sublease is to review the underlying lease to determine what obligations apply to the sublease.  There are at least four basic questions to ask before you enter into a sublease.

  1. Does anyone need to consent to the sublease? Probably.  In most cases, a lease will prohibit a tenant from subletting their unit without the written consent of the landlord.  Some landlords will also require the consent of all tenants who are party to the lease.

  2. Do I really need a written sublease agreement if I am only subletting for the summer?  Absolutely.  A written contract defines the rights and responsibilities of the sublessor (the original tenant) and sublessee (the summer tenant). You may have discussed whether the room would be furnished or who would pay for utilities.  However, if a communication – verbal, email, or otherwise – is not included in the sublease agreement, it is not a binding statement.  It is essential for you to read the sublease carefully to ensure that it reflects what the parties discussed.

  3. Is a parental signature required?  Maybe.  Frequently a landlord will require a parent or guardian to cosign or otherwise guarantee a tenant’s obligation under a lease or sublease – for the obvious reason that students often have few assets and little income.  Parents should also review the lease to confirm their responsibilities as a cosigner.

  4. Is the original tenant free from responsibility after the sublease?  No.  In a sublease, the original tenant remains in “privity of contract” with the landlord – meaning that, for example, if a subtenant damages the property, the landlord can still collect from the original tenant.  This means that the original tenant should be careful to whom she rents – and consider asking for a security deposit to cover any potential damages.

For more information about drafting or reviewing a lease or sublease, contact one of our attorneys today.

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