How to Legally Sublet a Rent Stabilized Apartment in NYC

It’s legal for you to sublet your rent stabilized apartment in NYC provided you adhere to specific rules and procedures. There is a limit to how often you can sublet, and you’re prohibited from charging the subletter more than what you pay in rent.

The rent stabilized apartment must be maintained as your primary residence throughout the term of the sublet. You’re also required to follow a specific procedure to obtain subletting permission from your landlord.

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There is a limit to how often you can sublet

You may only sublet your rent stabilized New York City apartment for no more than two years out of the four-year period preceding the expiration date of the proposed sublet.

This is outlined in Rent Stabilization Code § 2525.6(c):

(c) The tenant may not sublet a housing accommodation for more than a total of two years, including the term of the proposed sublease, out of the four-year period preceding the termination date of the proposed sublease. The term of proposed sublease may, if lawful under this section, extend beyond the term of the tenant’s lease, and an owner may not refuse consent to a sublease solely because it extends beyond such term. A sublease which so extends shall be subject to the tenant’s right to a renewal lease.

This provision is quite similar to sublet restrictions for co-ops in that it’s designed to prevent you from perpetually renting the apartment without actually living there for a period of time.

The rent stabilized apartment must remain as your primary residence

You may only sublet a rent stabilized apartment if you maintain it as your primary residence. For example, you may wish to sublet while you study abroad in Europe for a year or accept a temporary job assignment overseas.

If you sublet your rent stabilized apartment while having another primary residence, your landlord may seek to terminate your tenancy in court.

There is a limit to how often you can sublet your rent stabilized apartment in NYC, and you cannot make a profit.

By extension, you may not buy a NYC apartment as your primary residence and then sublet your rent stabilized apartment.

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You may not earn a profit when subletting your rent stabilized apartment

Another condition of subletting your rent stabilized NYC apartment is that you cannot charge more than what you pay the landlord. In other words, you may not profit from subletting a rent stabilized apartment in NYC.

You may only charge the subtenant more than what you pay if the property is offered furnished. However, you are not allowed to charge a premium in excess of 10% of the rent you pay.

If you overcharge your subtenant, she or he may be entitled to treble damages. The tenant can file a complaint by submitting a form called “Tenant’s Complaint of Rent and/or Other Specific Overcharges in a Rent Stabilized Apartment” to NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the state agency which administers the rent laws. 

Per the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, “If HCR finds that the prime tenant has deliberately overcharged you, then they may be required to refund to you three times the overcharge.”

You must follow a specific procedure to legally sublet

In order to legally sublet your rent stabilized NYC apartment, you must first share a bunch of required information with the landlord via certified mail, return receipt requested. The following items must be submitted to the landlord:

  • the term of the sublease

  • the name of the proposed sublessee

  • the business and permanent home address of the proposed sublessee

  • the tenant’s reason for subletting

  • the tenant’s address for the term of the sublease

  • the written consent of any cotenant or guarantor of the lease

  • a copy of the proposed sublease, to which a copy of the tenant’s lease shall be attached if available, acknowledged by the tenant and proposed subtenant as being a true copy of such sublease. 

We recommend submitting this information at least 60 days in advance of the proposed start date of the sublet.

Afterwards, the landlord has the right to ask the tenant for additional information within ten days after the mailing of such request.

Thereafter, the landlord has up to 30 days after the mailing of the request for consent, or of the additional information reasonably asked for by the landlord (whichever is later) to send the tenant a notice of the landlord’s response. Landlord’s failure to send such a notice within this timeframe shall be deemed to be a consent to the proposed subletting. 

The landlord may not unreasonably withhold consent to a proposed sublet if the aforementioned procedure is followed.

Per NY Real Property Law – RPP § 226-b:

If the landlord reasonably withholds consent, there shall be no subletting and the tenant shall not be released from the lease.  If the landlord unreasonably withholds consent, the tenant may sublet in accordance with the request and may recover the costs of the proceeding and attorneys fees if it is found that the owner acted in bad faith by withholding consent.

Tenants in buildings with three or fewer units do not have a statutory right to sublet. This means that a landlord does not have to agree to a proposed sublet.

Disclosure: Hauseit® and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, financial or accounting advice. No representation, guarantee or warranty of any kind is made regarding the completeness or accuracy of information provided.

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