What You Need to Know About Subleasing Under California Law

At some point during the landlord-tenant relationship you may be faced with a tenant’s request to lease part or all of the premises to a third party.  For example, the tenant may find it necessary to cover monthly rent payments due to an extended absence from the dwelling, or a tenant may want to create an additional source to pay rent by allowing the third party to occupy a part of the rental space.  In California, the enforceability of such a request is governed by the terms and conditions of the lease agreement.  If the lease agreement is silent on the subject, then the tenant’s subletting request cannot be refused unless there is a reasonable basis for doing so.    

What is a Sublease?

In layman’s terms, subletting is when an individual rents part or all of a rental property from the original tenant.  Subletting can take two forms. A tenant can move out of the apartment and hand it over to a third party without changing the details on the lease, or they could have a tenant move in and use part of the property. 

While subletting the property, the original tenant assumes responsibility for the subtenant. The rights of the original tenant do not change with a sublease. The subtenant’s rights may change if you or the original tenant stipulate those changes in the signed sublease agreement.

If the subtenant fails to make a payment, the original tenant must pay in their place. When the subtenant’s sublease agreement ends, the original tenant either assumes their tenancy of the unit, or the landlord leases the space to another tenant.

Can A Landlord Deny a Tenant’s Request to Sublet?

Landlords in California can legally prevent tenants from subletting if that right is explicitly stated in the lease agreement. If the lease states that the tenant is not allowed to sublet under any circumstance, then the landlord can decline the sublease request unconditionally. 

Tenants can, however, legally sublease their unit if the lease makes no mention of subleasing rules unless the selected sublessee presents an unreasonable risk to the landlord.  If the lease provides that the tenant can sublet with landlord approval or makes no mention of subletting, then your landlord cannot refuse your request without a good reason.  Such a reason includes the proposed subtenant represents a credit risk or is unwilling to carry out the terms of the original lease.  Reasonable objections don’t include the landlord personally disliking the proposed tenant or wanting to charge a higher rent.

California Eviction Process for a Subtenant

If subletting violates the lease agreement or California law, the landlord has the right to serve a notice of eviction to both the tenant and the sublessor.  If the case goes to court, the normal rules and procedures for a California eviction proceeding would apply.

Please contact Lynx Legal Service with any questions regarding the above, and for all of your eviction needs.  We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or  Our experienced professionals are standing by to answer your inquiries or take your order if you are ready to start a case.   

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