- Starting a new job
- Moving in with a partner
- Early graduation or study abroad
- Summer or holiday travel
A sublet is meant to be temporary; the subtenant returns the apartment to the original tenant before the original lease agreement ends. If an agreement is made to rent an apartment or house to someone else but the original tenant does not plan to return, this is not a sublet this is called an “Assignment of Lease.”
When you sublet your apartment or house, you remain responsible to the landlord for the apartment or house. Subletting can be risky. It is important to remember that a sublease is not a release from the original lease. If you have a written lease, your subtenant must obey all the terms of that lease. As the original tenant, you remain responsible for all the terms in the lease, including the obligation to keep the place in good condition and to pay rent. This means that if the subtenant refuses to pay the rent, your landlord can act against you for non-payment of rent. A subtenant may also sue you, as the original tenant, for violations of the sublease (if you signed one) or other violations of law.
Can I sublease my apartment/home?
No. In Illinois, unless your lease agreement specifically gives you that right, you do not have the right to sublease the property you are renting to someone else without the permission of the landlord first.
How to sublease
To sublease your apartment, you must be a tenant with a lease and you must have the landlord’s written consent. Contact the landlord and get their written consent before subletting. Keep in mind that if you decide to sublet without the landlord's permission, you risk being evicted by the landlord for violating your lease. If the landlord gives his consent to sublet the apartment or house, a “Sublease Agreement” must be signed by the tenant and the subtenant.
Does the subtenant pay a security deposit?
The best answer to this is to sign a subletting agreement that addresses this question to avoid issues later. The best thing for both parties involved in a sublease agreement is for the subtenant to pay the security deposit directly to the landlord.
Also, it is a good idea for the original tenant and the subtenant to conduct a written inspection at the beginning and end of the sublease period. This is conducted by recording in writing any damage in the property. If this is not possible, the original tenant should take photographs before moving out and return when the sublease period ends.
Many landlords do not like subletting. Sometimes it is because they did not choose the subtenant, sometimes it is because the landlord had other units for rent that could otherwise have been rented to the subtenant under a different lease, and sometimes it is just because a landlord does not want to be bothered by the complexity of a subtenancy. As a landlord, you have a “duty to mitigate.” This means that even when the tenant violates or breaks the lease, the landlord has a duty to mitigate (or lessen) the amount of damages the tenant may incur. This would include finding a new tenant, agreeing to a sublease, etc.
A landlord can apply the same requirements he has for all the other tenants to the subtenant, such as pet restrictions, credit criteria, and security deposits.
Approving a subtenant
Chicago Ordinance is very tenant friendly. In Chicago, a landlord cannot outright refuse a “reasonable” subtenant. So, if the tenant presents a subtenant who has bad credit (worse than the landlord’s typical tenant) or past evictions, the landlord would probably be within the landlord’s rights to deny the subtenancy.
Updated: December 2017