Editorial: To determine if subletting is for you, ask
By Alan Pentico
Subletting can often be a win-win situation for the landlord and a tenant, whether it be because you are looking to move but have yet to finish out the length of your lease, or even if you simply need help paying rent.
The proper process for subletting can me made very easy by doing one simple thing: asking. Never be afraid to ask if subletting is an option available and be sure you also understand the rules.
Most lease agreements or rental contracts will specifically state whether subletting is allowed. If it is not explicitly prohibited in the terms of the lease, then you can legally assume it is permitted. However, you are always encouraged to ask and get everything in writing.
There are two forms of subletting: assignment and sublease.
An assignment is when you essentially transfer your remainder of the lease to the subtenant. The new tenant will pay the landlord directly and communicate with that person about any important issues. While this may take you out as the middle-man between the landlord and the new tenant, it is vital that you realize that if the subtenant does not pay rent, then you are liable for the full amount. Because you are still at risk, the San Diego County Apartment Association recommends getting a sublease agreement or contract between a tenant and a subtenant in writing.
As opposed to assignment, choosing to sublease means you will play a more active role in the process. This form of straight subletting means that you will collect rent checks and forward them to the landlord. The new tenant will not be in communication with the landlord, so you will also need to assist in home repair issues if they arise. Again, it is recommended that you also get an agreement or contract in writing from this person, and even collect a deposit in case damages to the property ensue, considering that you are still responsible for the unit.
If you decide subletting is a good option for you, have a conversation with your landlord and make sure they are involved in the process; that way, it becomes a win-win, and you can move on to the next home and chapter in your life, knowing that all is well and secure with your sublease.
—Alan Pentico is Executive Director of the San Diego County Apartment Association.