Help and Answers

What is the difference between a lease break and a sublet?

  • SUBLET: Your name is on the lease and you want to rent out your room/apartment. The incoming tenant will pay their rent to you, but you’re still responsible for paying that rent to your landlord and fulfilling all lease obligations.

    (or) Sublets occur when a tenant (whose name is on the lease) decides to rent their room, the entire property, or a portion of it to a subtenant. In a subleasing situation, the principal tenant remains responsible for the lease. Subtenants pay rent and comply with the lease, but their name is left off the paperwork.

  • LEASE ASSIGNMENT: Your name is on the lease and you want to rent out your room/apartment. Instead of keeping your name on the lease (like in a subletting situation), the new tenant is “assigned” your current lease. Your relationship with your landlord will end and the new tenant becomes the responsible party for the remainder of your lease. They pay the landlord directly, and you’ll no longer be involved whatsoever.

LEASE BREAK: This occurs when the new tenant essentially replaces you. Your landlord might prefer you to “break the lease” and instead have this new tenant sign a new one in your place. You’re out of the picture and removed from the paperwork.

  • Note that while breaking a lease is often frowned upon, there are ways to get out of a lease without upsetting a landlord or being liable to legal action. For example, serious sudden health conditions or problems with other tenants may sway them to terminate the lease. You may still be forced to pay an early termination fee, so start with a reasonable conversation with your landlord and explain honestly why you want to leave.
  • If you find yourself in need of lease break, consider asking your landlord to sign a “surrender agreement.” These are standard legal forms that state that both you and your landlord agree to release each other from the obligations of the lease. Once that document is signed, no legal action can be taken against you for breaking your lease agreement.

*Be wary of hosting your friends or relatives. While hospitability is tempting, if you allow guests to stay at your apartment for less than 30 days, you might unknowingly be allowing an illegal short-term rental and in breach of your lease contract. When this happens, your landlord has a right to take legal action against you. Check your lease carefully first so you don’t get into any legal trouble or upset your landlord. Read more about the NYC government rules here.*