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Subletting Your Apartment

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Maybe your company relocated or you lost hours at work. These issues often pose a problem. Homeowners can just rent the home out or take on a roommate. However, if you rent an apartment, subletting (a tenant renting to a sub-tenant) may be a challenge if your lease is not yet up. Avoid the lease-break fee. Read these answers to questions about how to legally sublet an apartment in Texas and the issues involved.

Is subletting legal?

According to the Texas Property Code, Section 91.005, subletting is generally prohibited: "The tenant may not rent the leasehold to any other person without the prior consent of the landlord." However, it clearly states that is perfectly legal to sublet in Texas if your landlord grants permission for the sublet.

How can I get my landlord's consent to sublet?

It is best to ask in writing. Type and sign a formal letter to your landlord requesting permission to sublet your apartment. Give the reason you need to sublet. Attach a copy of your lease highlighting the area related to subletting and mention that section in your letter. Ask for an answer within a specified amount of time. Mail the letter and lease attachment to your landlord at the post office. Pay the small fee for certified mail, return receipt requested, as that provides proof that it was received. Any answer from your landlord must be in writing; verbal approvals will not hold up in court.

Will I have to pay a lease-break fee?

Yes, but only if the landlord does not agree to the sublet. The fee is stipulated in your lease and must be paid to get out of your lease agreement. There is no lease-break fee if the landlord agrees to the sublet and rent is paid until your original lease termination date with your landlord.

How do I find someone to take my place as a tenant?

Ask friends, family and co-workers if they need a place to live. Craigslist or the local newspaper are also good places to find a renter. Make sure you list dates available and some basic information about the apartment. Photos are also helpful when posting online. Get the word out and potential renters will come.

Is there any paperwork involved?

Yes. You must sign a legal sublease form with the new tenant making you the landlord for the period of time they will be renting. Your current landlord may have this form. You (as sublessor) are required to collect rent and get it to the landlord on time. Before agreeing to any tenant, run a credit report first and look it over to be certain the choice is right. After all, signing of sublease documents makes you the landlord over the new tenant (sublessee). You must still uphold your agreement with the landlord and make sure the sublessee does too. Have the sublessee transfer all utilities to their name.

Request a deposit and have the subless pay it directly to your landlord, who will also return it to the sublessee when the sublease expires and all terms were met. Also, do an written inspection form that both you and the sublessee sign prior to move-in and right after sublessee moves out to show if any damages occurred that can be deducted from the security deposit. Texas law does state that the sublessee is provided an outline of her/his rights and obligations.

Is an attorney needed?

An attorney is not needed to sublease, but may be helpful to protect you from legal issues from the sublessee or landlord.

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About The Author

Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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