Off-Campus Community Living University of Illinois Off-Campus Community Living Student Affairs


Remember: a sublease does not release you from the lease. Subleasing has its risks. Contact us if you have questions.

1. Things to know when Subleasing

2. Sample Sublease Agreement

3. The Security Deposit and Subleasing

4. How to Find a Subtenant

5. How to Find a Sublease or a Semester-only Lease


Subleasing Risks

Most leases state that you cannot sublet without the landlord's written consent. Make sure that the landlord either signs the sublease agreement, or signs a statement that says the original tenant has permission to sublet. Both the original tenant and subtenant should have a copy of that statement.

Your landlord should not withhold consent unreasonably. For example, your landlord should not reject a subtenant because of that person's race, nationality, disability, the fact that s/he is a student, has children or receives public aid, or for any reason that is not a lawful reason for rejecting a tenant (see Discrimination ). Contact the Tenant Union if your landlord is unfairly preventing you from subletting.

Some of the Risks of Subletting for the Original Tenant:

1. A sublease is NOT a release from the lease.

The primary responsibility shifts from original tenant to subtenant; however, if the subtenant fails to pay rent or does damage to the property, the original tenant can be held liable to the landlord for the cost of the subtenant's default or damage.

2. If the subtenant does not pay rent.

If the subtenant does not pay, the landlord may pursue you for the rent. Student Legal Services cannot represent one student against another.

3. The subtenant causes damages (or does not clean) and they won't pay for them so you are pursued by the landlord.

If the subtenant does not clean at the end of the lease or causes damages, the landlord may pursue you. Student Legal Services cannot represent one student against another.


Some of the Risks of being the Subtenant:

1. Eviction for the original tenant's non-payment of rent (depending on the language of your sublease contract).

As the subtenant, you may have an agreement to pay less than what the actual rent is on the lease. This occurs often in the summer. The Tenant Union hears from many subtenants who face eviction because the original tenants failed to pay their share of the summer rent. Fees for late or partial payments may also be added in. You may be pursued for these in addition to the rent owed.

2. Pursued for owed rent the original tenant didn't pay.

As seen in #1, you may be evicted for the original tenant not paying for rent. The landlord may also pursue for the owed money and added fees, which could affect your credit record. Student Legal Services cannot represent one student against another.

3. Pursued for money owed beyond the amount of the deposit.

The cleaning needed at the end of the lease may exceed the amount of the deposit. The landlord can pursue both the original tenant and the subtenant for damages and cleaning not done at the end of the lease.

*The next section describes some ways you may be able to mitigate the risks


Sublease Agreements

Usually, the landlord has a sublease agreement they use in their office. But, you can always have a separate agreement between the two of you.

Sample Sublease Agreement

What could happen if I don't have my landlord's written permission?

You should always get the landlord to sign a written sublease agreement. If the new tenant just moves in, many problems can result. The landlord might claim the new tenant is really a trespasser because no contract exists. Or, the new tenant may move out after a month, claiming no contract exists.

Can I just add my subtenant's name to the lease?

It's also not a good idea to simply add the new tenant's name to your lease. It may appear that you are roommates, jointly liable for rent and utilities for the full lease term. There may be confusion about when the sublease starts and ends.

What should be in the agreement?

Consider addressing the following:

1. The subtenant will pay all rent at sublease signing.

If you will be subletting for summer only at a rate that is very low, you'd be wise to require the subtenant to pay all rent before moving in. This way, you know that rent is paid.

2. Original lease holder(s) will pay all the remaining rent owed on the account at sublease signing.

If the original lease holder(s) owe rent or are renting to the subletter at a lower rate, everyone will be pursued for the difference of the amount owed. Also, the subtenant could be evicted for rent owed by the original tenant.

3. The subtenant will pay a deposit equal to $__. It will be paid to the landlord.

The original tenants put down a deposit. They most likely will want that deposit back. But, if the subtenant does not put down a deposit, what is the incentive to spend hours cleaning the apartment? We advise the tenant and subtenant to agree on a deposit amount. Or, the original tenant should be willing to come back to clean the apartment. Remember: The landlord can charge MORE than the deposit if that much cleaning needs to be done. And, this could be charged to the subtenant AND the original tenant.

4. What is the subtenant renting? A room or the entire apartment?


Security Deposits when Subleasing

Does my subtenant automatically get my deposit?

Sign a subletting agreement that addresses these questions to avoid problems.

Original Tenant: Protect your deposit!

Whenever possible, it's a good idea for the original tenant and the subtenant to conduct a joint, written inspection at the beginning and end of the sublease period, recording, in writing, any damage. If a joint inspection is not possible:

Who should the subtenant pay the deposit to?

The best arrangement for both parties is for the subtenant to pay the deposit directly to the landlord who is responsible, under the terms of the sublease contract, for refunding the subtenant's deposit. The original tenant is best protected if the sublease agreement says that the landlord will charge the subtenant first for any damage found at the end of the lease that was not reported on the joint inspection conducted at the beginning of the sublease period.


The last person out of an apartment--whether original tenant or subtenant, should take photographs to show that the insides of all appliances and fixtures are clean and that walls and floors are not damaged. Without photographs, both original tenant and subtenant are vulnerable to being charged bogus cleaning, painting or repair charges.

Check the lease for any charges that will be charged at the end of the lease.

The amount refunded to you will be reduced by the amount of charges owed by the original tenant before refund is made to you.

For example, two students subletting, pay an $800 deposit to current tenants expecting to get an $800 refund from the landlord at the end of the sublease. But, the original tenants owe $200 of unpaid rent and $60 of late fees. The lease also provides for a $25 sublet fee. In addition, the lease provides for an automatic deduction from the deposit for sewer taxes and carpet cleaning.

The landlord will deduct from the original tenant's $800 deposit, the $260 owed for rent and late fees, deduct the $25 sublet fee, and deduct $130 for sewer taxes and $120 for carpet cleaning. That means that even if you do no damage, the original tenants will be entitled to a refund of only $265. Hence, the landlord will refund to you only $265.

On top of that, if any damage was their fault -- burned carpet or tape marks on walls -- those charges will also be deducted from their deposit. Even if you can prove it was their damage, you'll still end up paying for it because you agreed to get back their damage deposit.


How to Find a Subtenant

We don't keep a list of sublease availabilities in our office, but we can refer you to resources you can use to advertise your sublease:

1.  The U of I Study Abroad website housing board.  Here, you can post your ad to other U of I students (you have to use your net ID to log into it)

2.  Here, you can also post your ad for free, but be very careful about scams.  Craigslist has a pretty good page talking about what to look out for that should be a good indication if a response is a scam.

3.  Daily Illini classifed section:  they have a sublet section, both in their print paper and online, but they do charge for it. 

Locating a summer subletter: This will be most difficult as many students are looking for someone to sublet from them in the summer with very few students left to do so. Consider making your rent price negotiable.


How to find a Sublease or a Semester-Only Lease

Many leases will be 12 months long or a full academic year, especially furnished apartments near campus.

You will most likely need to sublet from another renter who needs someone to take over their apartment for a semester.

Strategies to find a sublet:

1. Utilize the U of I Study Abroad Housing Board. You can find other students who need a subletter while they are studying abroad. You must use your Net ID to log in to view or post listings.

2. Check with University Housing. Sometimes their apartments allow for semester-long leases. Also, the Residence Halls will accommodate a semester-long stay and single rooms may be available. Private Certified Housing includes some apartment-style living options and MAY have a six month lease option available.

3. Check Craig's List for renters looking to sublet their apartment for the time you need a place to stay. Be aware of scams!

If you are searching for a spring-only lease, you may find a rental that the landlord was not able to rent for the academic year and it has been vacant for all of fall. Ask us for a list of the landlords leasing furnished apartments near campus to check their websites for availabilities.

If you are looking for a summer sublet, you may pay a reduced amount of rent due to the high number of students looking for subletters. Be sure to read the risks involved in subletting above, as they are most important for summer sublets because they are the last tenants to move out.


The Tenant Union does not provide legal services of any kind. All information provided in this publication is intended to help the average person prevent problems and deal with common concerns of renting. When legal help is needed, always consult with an attorney at law.