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Is It Legal To Sublet My Room In NYC?

Heading overseas for a brief period of time or just living with a smelly roommate and need a break? You may want to explore subletting options to help cover your part of the rent while you’re gone, and ensure your room is still intact when you return.

It’s important to remember that there are terms and conditions involved in subletting; the process isn’t as simple as finding a friend to move in and pay your rent for you. In fact, in some states, you can go to prison if you sublet without getting your landlord’s approval! Make sure you’re following the rules if you want to sublet your room in NYC – we’ve covered all your essential questions here.

Can I legally sublet in New York?

New Yorkers that wish to sublet have more flexibility than lots of other renters across America. It’s the only other jurisdiction (alongside Chicago) that allows you to sublet – even if your landlord denies or ignores your request.

The New York Real Property Law 226-b says that your sublease request should contain information such as the reason for subletting, the subletting term and the name of the person you’re subletting to. If the landlord has a good reason to withhold the request, you won’t be permitted to sublet your room by law. In circumstances that the landlord unreasonably withholds consent, you can go ahead with the sublet.

Do I have to return to my apartment?

In order for a sublet in NYC to be legal, you must plan on returning to the property once the subletting term is up. If you think you’ll be gone for good, speak to your landlord about breaking or re-assigning your lease to determine what the process should be.

Are there any people that cannot sublet their apartment?

If you fall under any of the following categories, you may not have the right to sublet, so make sure you get permission from the relevant body in writing before trying to advertise your room:

  • Public housing residents or those that receive rent subsidies
  • Tenants that live in non-profit buildings
  • Tenants in co-op and condo apartments should consult their proprietary lease and check the building’s by-laws, as they may be prohibited from subletting
  • Rent controlled tenants also do not have the right to sublet by law and should check the clauses of their lease

Can I make money by subletting my room?

In the days of the sharing economy, we’re no strangers to shacking up in a stranger’s house while they take their annual summer vacation – and most of us are happy to let someone stay in our place if it helps us take care of the rent. So, can you make a few extra dollars each month by subletting your room and charging the temporary tenant a higher rate than you currently pay?

In short – yes. You’re permitted to add an extra 10% of the monthly rent onto the price, as long as the place is furnished. Your landlord also has the right to “sublet allowance”, which is where they add on their own 10% of the monthly rent.

That means that, in total, you can rent out the room at 20% more than you pay. If you’re adding on more and the new tenant finds out, they can file a complaint and you’d have to pay a heavy fine. NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) is the state agency that governs this, and contains up-to-date information regarding the latest updates to rental laws.

Can the sublettee take over my lease?

As we already mentioned, you must have plans to return to the property after the sublet period is over. But what happens when everything is going swimmingly, you don’t want to go back to the room and the new tenant has settled in? Can they take over your lease?
Under state law, you must obtain written consent from the owner before this can go ahead. The owner is under no obligation to give their consent, nor do they have to provide a reason for denying the lease takeover. For more details around this scenario, check out the HCR Fact Sheet on Sublets, Assignments and Illusory Tenancies.