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Subleases and Subtenants

House & Apartment

This article answers some common questions about subleasing and each party's rights in a sublease agreement.

What is a sublease?

A sublease is an agreement where someone takes over part or all of an existing lease. This type of lease involves at least three parties. The first party is the landlord, who usually owns the property. The second party is the tenant, who rents the property from the landlord. The third party is the subtenant, who rents the property from the tenant.

Another word for sublease is “sublet.”

Why would I want to sublease?

Subleasing can help save money and may help you move early without breaking your lease. Rather than breaking your lease, you can find a person who is willing to take over your lease. 

It can also help you find a place to live. Subleasing is a great option if you only need short-term living arrangements. If you know you will only need a place to live in during the summer, subleasing could be an option for you. Subleasing gives you the option to avoid locking yourself into a longer lease than you want to.

When am I allowed to sublease?

In Texas, subleasing is governed by Texas Property Code 91.005. This rule states that during your lease, you may not rent the property without your landlord’s consent. Your lease will usually tell you if subleasing is allowed. There are four different types of leases. Your lease will either:

  1. Prohibit subleasing,
  2. require your landlord’s permission,
  3. allow subleasing without permission (this is very rare in Texas), or
  4. not say anything about subleasing. This will still require you to get your landlord's permission to sublease.

If I own a manufactured home but rent the land that it sits on, do I have to get permission to sublease?

Often, yes. If you own a manufactured home but rent the land it is on, Texas Property Code 94.057 applies. For manufactured homes, your lease may either prohibit or allow subleasing. If your lease allows subleasing, it should include the conditions in which you are allowed to sublease.

Can my landlord refuse to allow me to sublease?

Yes. In Texas, landlords have the final say in allowing you to sublease unless your lease says otherwise. A landlord can refuse to allow you to sublease. When signing a lease, look to see if there is a subleasing section. If there is one, see if your landlord restricts your ability to sublease. Even if your lease does not allow you to sublease, ask your landlord. If your landlord agrees to let you sublease, try to get their promise in writing.

Is there anything I can do to help persuade my landlord to allow me to sublease?

Yes. Attempt to make things as simple and clear as possible. Making the process as smooth as possible will increase your chances that your landlord will work with you. Let your landlord know:
 
  1. Subtenant name, address and contact information.
  2. Dates the sublease will cover.
  3. Any other relevant subtenant qualifications. This can include information such as proof of income, rental history, and personal references.

If everything checks out, your landlord might be more agreeable than if you had not put in the work.

Can I get in trouble if I sublease without my landlord’s permission?

Yes. Subleasing without your landlord's permission may violate your lease. This could result in the landlord evicting both you and your subtenant. This may also lead to your landlord pursuing both of you for damages.

As a tenant, you may also be liable to the person to whom you sublease. If the landlord won’t let you fulfill the sublease, the subtenant could sue you. You may be liable even if the landlord evicts the subtenant. This is because a sublease is a binding contract. This is true even if there is no landlord permission.

What duties do I have when I sublease to a tenant?

When you sublease to a subtenant, you take on the duties of a landlord. This means that you are responsible for all the duties that a landlord would normally be responsible for. This includes duties such as repairs to the apartment and providing essential utilities.

It is important to note that a landlord might not want to cooperate with a subtenant. The landlord may choose to only deal with a tenant. If this is the case, a tenant will have to act as a middleman between the subtenant and the landlord.

Do I still owe my landlord rent, even if I sublease?

Yes. Unless a landlord and subtenant sign a lease together, a tenant generally remains liable for rent. If the sublease is between you and the subtenant, which is common, you will be liable for rent if the subtenant stops paying. This means that your landlord can come after you, the tenant, for any unpaid rent. You will then have the burden of collecting money from the subtenant.

Is there anything that I can do so I that I do not have to act like a landlord?

Yes. You might try to get your landlord and the new renter to sign an agreement with each other. That way, the new renter will take over your lease and replace you as the tenant instead of becoming your subtenant. Note that unless the agreement between the landlord and the new renter releases you from the lease, you will still have tenant responsibilities. If your landlord allows the new tenant, try to make sure their agreement releases you from any liability.

Remember, your landlord does not have to allow you to sublease. Try to make the process as simple and clear as possible. This will increase the chances that your landlord will agree to a sublease arrangement.

What are my rights as a subtenant?

As a subtenant, you have the same rights as if you had rented from the landlord. The only difference is who you have to deal with for things such as paying rent and requesting repairs. Generally, if you sign a lease with the landlord, you deal with the landlord. If you sign a lease with the tenant, you deal with the tenant. In some situations, even though you signed a lease with the tenant you still may be able to deal with the landlord as well.

Note: Look over the sublease agreement. This will tell you what each person’s duties are. Remember, if a subtenant signs a lease with the landlord, the tenant usually will no longer have any duties. Instead, you will have to deal with the landlord.

If I sublease from a tenant instead of the landlord, can the tenant still evict me?

Yes. Both the tenant and landlord are still able to evict a subtenant under certain conditions. This article on eviction covers the eviction process. It also covers the rules and procedures that a landlord must follow.

Note: Some evictions are being put on hold due to the COVID-19 crisis. These articles give some information on evictions:

  1. StopTXEviction Tool
  2. Evictions During The COVID-19 Pandemic
  3. CDC Eviction Moratorium

I subleased my apartment but I want it back. Can I move back in?

Probably not. There are typically two situations:

In the first situation, your landlord and the new renter have signed a lease with each other. In this case, you likely do not have any rights to the property. 

In the second situation, you and the subtenant signed a sublease together. In this case, you will most likely be unable to break the sublease. Doing so would be a breach of contract which could cause you to become liable to subtenant.

My subtenant is trying to break the sublease. Is this allowed?

No. The sublease can be a valid contract even if the landlord did not give their permission. If your subtenant is trying to break the sublease, you may be entitled to damages. You should note that your landlord is still owed rent no matter what happens. This means that if your subtenant stops paying rent, you still owe the landlord rent. This is why it is often a good idea to get the subtenant and the landlord to sign an agreement together that releases you from your lease.

I subleased from a tenant and the landlord is refusing to cooperate with me. What should I do?

You need to talk with the person you subleased from. If there is no agreement between you and the original landlord, they can refuse to work with you. The person you subleased from will have to act as a middleman. The person you subleased from will have to relay any requests you make to the original landlord.

What should I do if both the landlord and the person I subleased from refuse to work with me?

The first thing you should do is talk with the tenant you subleased from. Talking may solve the problem without any further issues. If neither the tenant nor the landlord will work with you, it may be time to file a lawsuit. This guide contains an overview of a tenant rights and landlord duties.