Subletting in Portland

Subletting in Portland is tricky due to Oregon State laws, but it’s legal if everyone involved agrees to the terms in writing. Here’s what to know.
Written by Matt Terzi
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Subletting is generally prohibited in Oregon for any period more than three days, but there is a caveat that lets you sublet your apartment longer. Subletting in Portland will require you, your landlord, and your subtenant to enter a detailed written agreement.
Subletting involves someone with a leased apartment or property (the subletter) renting that property to someone else (the subtenant). It’s especially useful if you’re leaving the area for a while, but you intend to return and want the same apartment when you do.
Let’s say you’re a travel nurse and just accepted a one-year contract in Miami. You don’t want to give up your apartment, but you don’t want to pay $1,800 per month when you won’t even be there. A subletter could stay there temporarily and pay the rent instead.
Subletting is a useful solution to those sorts of issues, but it’s tricky in Oregon due to legal restrictions. The
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It’s legal to sublet your apartment in Portland, but there are significant regulations you need to follow. 
A Portland sublet requires your landlord’s approval, and your subtenant needs to agree to your terms. All three parties need to sign a sublet agreement document so the arrangement is confirmed in writing.

Can my landlord reject my sublet tenant? 

In Oregon, your landlord can refuse a subletting agreement if they can argue that subletting would negatively affect or endanger their business. If your subtenant has blemishes on their rental history, a criminal record, or insufficient income, your landlord has a legal right to reject them.
When considering a subtenant, ask yourself if your landlord would approve of them. If they don’t earn enough to afford the rent and utilities or if a credit check might hold them up, your landlord can and likely will reject them.

How to sublet an apartment in Portland

At face value, subletting looks like a much bigger challenge than it is. Here are some simple steps to get your Portland sublet up and running with minimal fuss.

Get the okay from your landlord

Start by getting your landlord’s approval to sublet your apartment. Confirm that a sublet is something your landlord would be open to before you start looking for tenants and drafting a subletting agreement.
Write an opening request that explains all of the following:
  • Your reason for wanting to sublet
  • The amount of time you plan to sublet for. Include the exact date your subtenant will begin subletting and the date they will leave
  • Updated financial information that verifies you can pay the rent if your subletter fails to do so, or if they leave the agreement early
  • Your plan to carefully vet potential subtenants and that you’ll allow the landlord to do the same

Find a subtenant

Once you have your landlord’s approval, your next step is to find a viable subtenant your landlord would approve. It’s great if you already have someone lined up. Otherwise, you’ll need to start looking for candidates.
Popular options for finding subtenants include
, and
Facebook Marketplace
You should make your post professional, explain the exact dates of availability and when you’ll be taking the apartment back, and details about rent, utilities, etc. Don’t forget photos of the space!
Make sure the prospective subtenant has proof of income and a decent credit score.
MORE: Pros and cons of bundling home and auto insurance 

Screen applicant backgrounds

Once you start getting subtenant applicants, you’ll need to investigate them to make sure they’re reliable and trustworthy—and up to your landlord’s standards.
Your rent and utility costs should be no more than 30 percent of the subtenant’s total income, and as a general rule, their credit score should be equal to or greater than your own. Anything less than this will likely result in your landlord rejecting them, which they’re legally allowed to do.
If the potential subtenant passes these requirements, you’ll want to ask for proof of income (pay stubs) and consider using a third-party service to run a formal background check. 
Background checks typically cost anywhere from $10 to $500, an expense you’ll be solely responsible for. You’re legally and financially responsible for your subtenant and need to know you can trust them.

Create a sublease agreement and request approval in writing

Now let’s get everything set in writing. Per Oregon state law, your sublet agreement needs to include the following: 
  • The exact amount of rent your subtenant will owe each month and the date this rent is due
  • A full description of additional fees and utilities, their costs, and the dates each expense is owed
  • A provision requiring your subtenant to pay rent directly to the landlord and not to you
  • An acknowledgment that the landlord is still required to keep the property well-maintained and habitable for your subtenant
  • A provision that protects the subtenant from retaliatory actions from the landlord
  • A procedure that explains how rent and other bills are paid and what actions you’ll take if they are not. Include that you’ll assume financial responsibility if necessary and pay these yourself.
Once everything is drafted, you and your subtenant will need to sign the agreement. You should make a copy and give the signed agreement to your landlord, along with all documentation you’ve obtained during financial and background checks. 
Also include a final signed, formal request for subletting approval.

Continue paying rent

Once your sublet has been approved, you’re officially a subletter! But don’t forget you’re still responsible for making sure the rent is paid on time. And if the rent isn’t paid on time, it’s entirely on you.
It’s a good idea to put a few months’ rent aside as a safety net. If your subtenant fails to pay the rent, you can terminate the agreement and take the apartment back or find another temporary subletter.
Key Takeaway Keep detailed records and everything from your initial request to sublet to a copy of the subletting agreement. Keep receipts of the subtenant paying their rent on time, too.

How to save on renters insurance in Portland

Renters insurance
is always important, but it’s critical if you’re subletting your apartment to someone else—whether it’s your best friend since grade school or a stranger.
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