Renting vs. Subletting

Financial Commitment

Renting involves some upfront costs as well as a long-term financial commitment. Initial expenses may include a damage deposit, application fees or a broker's fee. A landlord may require several months worth of rent upfront. A contract obligates the tenant to pay monthly rent during the rental period. Subletting does not cost nearly as much. Generally, a subtenant only pays monthly rent. The primary tenant may ask him to pay a small fee for a background check and a small damage deposit. Subtenant rents month-to-month with no contract commitment.

Liability

Even if a subtenant doesn't pay his share of rent on time, the primary tenant is still responsible for rent payments. The primary tenant also is fully liable for damages. To reduce his liability, the primary tenant can add the roommates to the lease agreement. In this case, they all are equally responsible for everything that happens on the premises. The primary tenant also can describe the liability terms in a sublease agreement with a subtenant. A subtenant may need to inspect the rental space and note any damages at the beginning of the rental period to ensure that he is only responsible for the new damages.

Contract

The primary tenant signs a rental contract with the landlord. A rental contract describes the terms, such as the length of the rental period, the amount of rent, the due date, restrictions on pets and tenants, if any, and penalties for violating the terms of the contract. The contract does not apply to a tenant who is not listed on it. An agreement between the primary tenant and a subtenant usually includes the rental period length, rent amount and due date, and utility payments.

Restrictions

If a rental contract forbids subletting, it is illegal for the primary tenant to sublet. Landlords usually restrict this because they want to know who lives in their rental property. The landlord may evict the tenants for breach of contract and impose financial penalties for subletting without permission. However, the primary tenant may ask permission to get a roommate. He also can add the roommate to the rental contract.