Subletting and Lease Assignments
If you have a lease that ends in August but are planning to leave the area in May, you may want to consider subletting your apartment for the summer. A “sublet” is when you rent your apartment to someone during your own lease term. The sublet, or “sublease” creates a second lease on the apartment, but does not release you from your own obligations in terms of rent or utilities.
You can bring a flier advertising your sublet to the Office of Student Housing. We maintain a binder of listings that students can check when they are looking for housing. Make sure your listing contains all of the important information including how much the rent is, whether the apartment/room is furnished, and any “perks” (e.g., laundry in unit, central air conditioning, porches). You should also include your contact information on the flier so interested people know how to reach you.
You can also list your sublet on the internet at boston.craigslist.org. For your own safety, do not include any personal information in this listing. Instead, post the nearest intersection instead of the address. Craigslist will generate a “reply to” email address for your listing, so do not include your phone number or personal email address.
Other Things to Remember
Some leases explicitly prohibit a tenant from subletting an apartment. Check your lease to figure out whether or not you can sublet your apartment BEFORE you post a listing. Also, if your lease prohibits subletting, make sure you get your landlord’s permission in writing.
Always make sure you sign a sublet agreement. This document will legally bind the sublessee (the person who you are subletting to) with you. In the event that the sublessee fails to pay his/her rent, you are still obligated to the landlord under the original lease and will be expected to cover those costs.
Landlords have the right to approve or deny any sublessee. However, his or her approval can not be discriminatory and can only be based on financial assessment.
You can download a sample sublet agreement here.
Unlike a sublease, a lease assignment actually transfers the time remaining on a lease to another tenant. This relieves the original tenant of any responsibility to the landlord in the event that the assignee (the person to whom you are assigning your lease) fails to pay his/her rent.
Lease assignments are only effective when you are moving out entirely before the end of the lease. For example, if you are planning on returning to the same apartment in September and want to leave your furniture, a lease assignment is not for you. Once you sign a lease assignment, you transfer all of the rights you had in the rental property to another person. You should NOT assign a lease unless you plan to move all of your belongings and are not planning to return to the apartment.
A sample lease assignment agreement is available here.