Is it legal to sublet your apartment in NYC?

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July 17, 2020
how to sublet your apartment in nyc

If you’re interested in turning your apartment into a short term rental, here is the complete guide to subletting in NYC. 

Short term rentals, also known as Airbnbs or sublets, are popular in NYC. In fact, NYC is the nation’s largest short term rental market. Sublets are useful for those who are visiting and vacationing in the city and also for those who just moved into New York City and aren’t ready to settle into an apartment right away.

Short term rental apartments are popular especially for those who prefer not to spend their time in hotel rooms for weeks or even months. Not to mention hotels can be pretty expensive too.

While short term rentals have always been a popular option, nowadays the amount of them in New York City have drastically increased due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because many landlords have chosen to offer more flexible, month-to-month leases to accommodate for the economic and financial uncertainty many people have been facing. 

illegal sublet nyc eviction
Would you sublet this apartment? 160 Central Park South, #1246/50 Midtown, New York

What is a sublet?

A sublet, also known as a sublease, is a contract where a tenant rents out their apartment to another person while their name is still on the lease. This is a bit different from living with roommates or simply renting out a room in an apartment to a roommate. When subleasing, only the original tenant’s name is on the lease. With roommates, all tenants are listed on the lease.

So why would someone choose to sublet their apartment? This may be because the tenant has to move out before their lease ends or if they have to leave the city for a long period of time. By subletting your apartment, you are able to save money on rent if you want to return back to the same space. It keeps you from breaking your lease, and you could make back some, or all of your monthly rent.

Can you sublease a room in New York City or does it have to be the whole apartment? In NYC, you are able to do both. Subleasing a room in an apartment would be considered a hosted short term rental, where the host is still present in the unit. However, the guest must still have access to all other parts of the apartment.

sublease agreement nyc
What would be your dream sublet apartment? 161 West 16 Street, #12D Chelsea, New York

Is it legal to sublease in NYC?

The short answer is: yes, it is legal to sublease in NYC. Under the New York City sublease laws, tenants renting in a building with four or more units have the right to sublet their apartment. However, there are a few conditions and laws regarding subletting in the city, and NYC has some of the toughest short term rental restrictions.

Then, is it legal to sublet a rent stabilized apartment in NYC? According to New York law, the exceptions to the right to sublet your apartment is if you live in public housing, a rent-controlled building, or receive Section 8 public assistance.

Additionally, although all tenants have a right to sublet their apartment, they still need permission from their landlord to do so along with a valid reason for subletting. A formal request must be made in writing and sent to the landlord by certified mail.

Tenants are also only allowed to sublet if they plan on returning to their apartment. This is because according to New York law, subletting means to temporarily rent out an apartment. So, if you were planning on running an Airbnb business, NYC is probably not the place for you.

Also, after the “multiple dwelling law” went into effect in 2011, many short term rentals became illegal. This is because for a sublease to be protected under New York City law, the sublease must last for a minimum of 30 days and no more than two years.

Can I Sublet my apartment nyc
You can lease this apartment for 6 months: 11 Prince Street, #3D Nolita, New York

How to sublet NYC apartments

If you’re looking to sublet your apartment for the first time, it can be a confusing process to navigate at first. Let’s break down the steps and see how you can sublet your apartment in NYC.

1. Check your lease & ask for permission

If you’re interested in subletting your apartment, the first thing you should do is to look through your lease to see if there is a clause in there stating your landlord wouldn’t want you subleasing.

While most tenants in NYC do have a right to sublease their space, the landlord’s approval is also needed. If you’re unsure about your landlord’s stance on them, be sure to contact them to be sure.

2. List your apartment

Once you are in the clear to sublease your apartment, the next step is to list your apartment for potential subtenants to see. Some options include AirBnb, Craigslist, New York Habitat, VRBO, and Booking.com.

Keep in mind the length of your sublet must be at least 30 days, but not extend past two years for it to be legal. Some things you should include when listing your space are:

  • Quality photos of the apartment
  • Exact start and end dates of the sublease
  • Request for references
  • Financial requirements for subletting your unit
  • Request for employment history
what is subletting an apartment
Find more apartments like this for lease! 400 East 90 Street, #3G Upper East Side, New York

3. Send in a formal request

Once you have found a tenant for your sublease, it’s time to put in a written request via certified mail to your landlord. This written request should include information about your subtenant and other details of the arrangement:

  • The start and end date of the sublet
  • The name of the proposed subtenant
  • The address of the proposed subtenant
  • The tenant’s reason for subletting
  • The tenant’s address for the term of the sublease
  • The amount of rent your proposed subtenant will pay you
  • A copy of the proposed sublease agreement

4. Prepare your apartment for a sublet

As a new tenant will be stepping into and living in your space for the next month or more, it is important that you prepare your apartment beforehand.

An important thing to do would be to remove all valuables from your apartment. Additionally, consider removing fragile or important items or decorations/furniture you don’t want destroyed. Secondly, be sure to clean your apartment to ensure your subtenant is able to enter into a clean, spotless place.

It can also be a good idea to clear out some closets or drawers if your subtenant would need a space for their clothes and belongings. Lastly, make sure to leave your contact information along with your landlord, management company, and maybe even your neighbor’s in case they need to contact someone while you are away.

Short term rentals and sublets are part of the norm in NYC. If you’re looking to move into a short term rental during this time, Localize can help you with your search.

Localize’s insights will help you find a comfortable apartment that you might be able to rent month-to-month.

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