Subletting or Assigning Leases


Subletting and assignment are methods of transferring the tenant’s legal interest in an apartment to another person. To sublet means that the tenant is temporarily leaving the apartment and therefore is transferring less than the entire interest in the apartment. In contrast, to assign means that the tenant is transferring the entire interest in the apartment lease to someone else and is permanently vacating the premises. A tenant’s right to assign the lease is much more restricted than the right to sublet. A sublet or assignment which does not comply with the law may be grounds for eviction.

A tenant may not assign the lease without the landlord’s written consent. The landlord may withhold consent without cause. If the landlord reasonably refuses consent, the tenant cannot assign and is not entitled to be released from the lease. If the landlord unreasonably refuses consent, the tenant is entitled to be released from the lease within 30 days from the date the request was given to the landlord. Real Property Law § 226-b(1).

Tenants with leases who live in buildings with four or more apartments have the right to sublet with the landlord’s advance consent. Any lease provision restricting a tenant’s right to sublease is void as a matter of public policy. If the landlord consents to the sublet, the tenant remains liable to the landlord for the obligations of the lease, including all future rent. If the landlord denies the sublet on reasonable grounds, the tenant cannot sublet and the landlord is not required to release the tenant from the lease. If the landlord denies the sublet on unreasonable grounds, the tenant may sublet anyway. If a lawsuit results, the tenant may recover court costs and attorney’s fees if a judge rules that the landlord denied the sublet in bad faith. Real Property Law § 226-b(2).

These steps must be followed by tenants wishing to sublet:

  1. The tenant must send a written request to the landlord by certified mail, return-receipt requested. The request must contain the following information: (a) the length of the sublease; (b) the name, home and business address of the proposed subtenant; (c) the reason for subletting; (d) the tenant’s address during the sublet; (e) the written consent of any co-tenant or guarantor; (f) a copy of the proposed sublease together with a copy of the tenant’s own lease, if available.
  2. Within ten days after the mailing of this request, the landlord may ask the tenant for additional information to help make a decision. Any request for additional information may not be unduly burdensome.
  3. Within 30 days after the mailing of the tenant’s request to sublet or the additional information requested by the landlord, whichever is later, the landlord must send the tenant a notice of consent, or if consent is denied, the reasons for denial. A landlord’s failure to send this written notice is considered consent to sublet.


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