Subletting in Brooklyn

It is legal to sublet in Brooklyn, but the details of your lease will dictate how you go about the process.
Written by David Ghanizadeh-Khoob
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Updated on Jul 13, 2022
It is typically legal to sublet your apartment in Brooklyn. Depending on the details of your rental agreement, though, you’ll have to take different steps to complete the process.
In a sublet, or sublease, you temporarily rent your unit to another person, who is the subtenant. If you have to vacate your apartment for a few months while you travel or work away from home, you can sublet your place to avoid having to pay rent for an empty apartment.
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It is generally legal to sublet in Brooklyn unless you live in NYCHA public housing or are receiving Section 8 rental subsidies. If one of these situations applies to you, you are not allowed to sublet under any circumstances. 
Depending on the type of unit you’re renting, you’ll need to follow different regulations for subletting. All New York sublet agreements must be temporary. You as the tenant must intend to return to your unit and tell your landlord exactly how long you’ll be gone.
If you do not intend to return to your unit, then you won’t be subletting but rather assigning your lease, which has different requirements than for subletting. 

Buildings with four or more units

If you rent a unit in a building with four or more units, then you technically have a “right to sublet” per the city of New York. Even if your lease prohibits subletting, you can still request a sublet, as your landlord would have no legal means of enforcing the terms of the lease.
However, there are still regulations around how to sublet your apartment. Your subtenant must be qualified to meet the rent requirements, and if they aren’t, your landlord can refuse your sublet request.
The landlord’s refusal must be “reasonable,” meaning the landlord can cite evidence that the subtenant might not be able to afford the rent or the tenant will not return to the unit.

Buildings with less than four units

If you rent a single-family home or a unit in a building with less than four units, you do not have a legal right to sublet
In these cases, you have to check your lease to see whether you are permitted to sublet. If your lease prohibits subletting, then you can’t sublet. You’ll have to look into assigning your lease if you need to leave for a prolonged period.

Rent-regulated or rent-stabilized units

If your unit is rent-regulated or rent-stabilized, there are additional regulations that you have to follow to sublet your apartment. 
Tenants in rent-regulated or rent-stabilized units can only upcharge on their rent if the unit comes fully furnished, and if so, the upcharge must not exceed 10%. If you break this rule, you can be sued for up to three times the illegal overcharge, plus the requisite legal fees. 
Additionally, tenants in these units can only sublease their unit up to two out of the last four years, from the end of the proposed request. 
So, if you request an 8-month sublet, but over the last two years you subleased your apartment for 18 months, then your request would be violating this requirement.
Key Takeaway Know what type of unit you’re renting, read through your lease, and make sure you meet all of the necessary regulations when finding a sublet.

How to sublet an apartment in Brooklyn

Get approval from your landlord

The first step is to ask your landlord’s permission in writing. The request must be sent by certified mail or email and include a return receipt request. 
Certified mail and email are the only forms of requesting a sublet that will be recognized in court.
The following information must be included in your request:
  • The start and end date of the sublet
  • Your reason for subletting
  • Your new address for the term of the sublet
  • The written consent of any guarantors or co-tenants on the lease
  • The name of the subtenant
  • The business and permanent address of the subtenant
  • A signed copy of the proposed sublease with the original lease attached
Upon receiving the request, your landlord has 10 days to request additional information. This additional information cannot be “unduly burdensome,” meaning that it cannot be so overwhelming as to drown you in paperwork and delay the process. 
The landlord is allowed to ask for documents like tax records, pay stubs, or credit scores.
The landlord must reply in writing within 30 days of the written request or 30 days of the request for more information (whichever is later). If they do not reply within 30 days, it is assumed that your request was accepted
A landlord cannot refuse a sublet request just because they don’t want you to sublet. If your request is rejected, your landlord must provide an explanation for their reasoning. 

Finding a subtenant

If you don’t already have a friend in mind to sublet your apartment, then you will have to look around. Ask friends and family if they know anyone, reach out on social media, and try these  websites to help with the process: 
Once you find a potential tenant, it’s a good idea to run a background check and request documentation of their income to ensure they are able to meet all rental requirements.

Continue paying rent

It is important to remember that even if your subtenant agrees to cover the entirety of the rent, you are still responsible for paying the rent on your apartment. 
Make sure your subtenant can actually afford to pay the agreed-upon rent. It is generally a good idea to get a security deposit from your subtenant to cover any issues or damages that occur while you’re gone, too. 
Since you are responsible for covering the rent, you can often challenge your landlord’s refusal to permit your sublet.
If your landlord believes the subtenant won’t be able to afford the monthly expenses or could damage the property, they might accept the agreement anyway if you vouch for the subtenant and assure the landlord that you’ll cover any extra costs incurred.

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