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How to Sublet a New York City Apartment

NYC - Chelsea

New York City Subletting Laws are Complicated

The laws are not only complicated but also relevant to all involved parties:
• The landlord or building manager, who may also be the building owner
• A prime tenant or apartment lessee, who has the primary apartment lease.
• The subtenant or subletter who is staying in a sublet apartment for a limited and unambiguous period of time.
Any one of these parties could adversely affect a subletting situation, thereby putting another in a bad situation. Each must know the legalities of subletting as it applies to their role. For example, landlords must abide by city and state laws, prime tenants must follow the landlord’s restrictions, and a good subtenant will abide by all of these requirements, to be sure that all parties are playing by the rules. Otherwise, the subtenant know that they could be kicked out of their temporary apartment.

There’s no need to worry. Here’s the information you need if you’re considering renting a sublet apartment in New York City.

A Landlord / Building Manager’s Subletting Responsibility

Landlords must follow regulations set by the New York State Multiple Dwelling Law. Provisions in this document have been set to protect apartment tenants. When the law way passed in 2011, many multiple dwellings in Manhattan and the boroughs were deemed illegal, which effected prime tenants and sub tenants. For your own protection, and for that of your family, you can check to see if an apartment follows the codes outlined in the Multiple Dwelling law. You can check with the Buildings Information System distributed by the NYC Department of Buildings, which allows you to put in an address to check if the apartment building is operating legally and if there have been any complaints filed against it.

The Prime Tenant’s Responsibilities

If you’re a prime tenant and want to sublet your apartment, it’s important to know that you are legally entitled to ask your landlord to sublet, and most tenants have the right to do so. Sublet agreements must be for at least 30 days.

If you are planning on subletting your apartment, there is a recommended procedure to follow. You should let your landlord know at least 30 days in advance via a written letter sent certified mail, return receipt. The landlord can request additional information within 10 day after the request is mailed. If they do not respond to you within 30 days, that may legally be interpreted as an approval.

When you make the request, provide your landlord with the following information:
• Start and end dates. The sublet time period must be longer than 30 days but not exceed two years over a four-year period.
• The Subtenant name and addresses – home and business
• Reason for sublet
• Your temporary address during the sublet
• A copy of the proposed sublease
It’s important to make sure your information is thorough and accurate. Incomplete requests are a key reason for denying a sublet.

Intricacies of Subletting a Rent-Stabilized Apartment

New York State requirements differ for rent-stabilized apartments. In many cases, the prime tenant does not have a lease. If they want to sublet, the landlord will have to approve, and they will issue a lease to the subtenant that has the begin and end dates of the sublet. Note that rent-stabilized apartments can be rented for any length of time – there is no 30-day minimum.

Landlords and prime tenants cannot increase the rent amount for sub tenants. However, rent-stabilized landlords can make a request to the Division of Housing and Community Renewal for permission to increase the rent by 10 percent.

The Role of the Sub Tenant

All you have to do is make sure that all other parties involved are following the laws and regulations of New York City and New York State. Once you find the perfectly-legal ideal apartment, settle in and enjoy the city!


If you’re moving into an unfurnished apartment, or if you need to put your furniture and belongings into storage while you sublet, the Serenity Movers staff can help. Contact us for a FREE moving or storage quote!

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