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The California sublease agreement is a legal document that binds the current tenant of a  rental property (the "sublessor") to a new tenant (the "sublessee") and permits the new tenant to take over all (or part) of the property. The landlord must give the initial renter approval before subletting the property.

A sublease is required when the original tenant wants to lease a sizable piece of the property. When the original tenant wishes to lease the entire property to a different party, a sublease is also necessary.

If a tenant will be away for a long time but wants to be able to move back in when the sublease is over, they may choose to sublet the rental property. It might also be a choice for renters who need to leave the rental home permanently but don't want to risk paying fines for breaking the terms of the original lease agreement.

There are special laws that regulate subletting a rental unit in various larger states and cities. These rules must be properly taken into account in order for a sublease agreement to be valid. In some rental properties, subleasing might not be allowed at all. Prior to looking for a lessee to sublease all or part of the unit, it is crucial to study the original lease and seek landlord consent for the sublet.

Sublease Agreement

A sublease agreement is a contract made between a subtenant and a tenant, as opposed to a lease agreement, which is between a tenant and the landlord. Regardless of whether you want to continue living in the property or not, a sublease agreement is necessary if you want a subtenant to occupy a residential unit that is currently leased.

Given that California rules are tougher than most other US states, you should approach a California sublease arrangement with extreme caution.

What to Include

Every California sublease agreement, whether it’s a month-to-month sublease or not, needs to include the following:

  • Subtenant and tenant information - addresses, full names, contact details, etc.
  • Lease term - the start and end dates of the California sublease agreement.
  • Premises - a description of the rental property as well as the full address
  • Rent amount - the rent payment that the sublessee needs to pay to the lessee every month.
  • Original lease agreement - all the information relating to the original lease agreement, such as the landlord's information.

The specifics of the security deposit, utilities, late fees, and property changes may also be covered by a sublease agreement.

How to Write One

It is essential to utilize a sublease agreement form that is comprehensive and state-specific because of the intricate nature of a sublease agreement and the added obligation that a sublessor must accept. Here's how to write a straightforward sublease agreement that complies with California law:

  1. Identify all parties to the contract
  2. Define the lease term
  3. Identify the terms and rent amount
  4. Address any other financial responsibilities
  5. Discuss the terms of the security deposit
  6. List any other restrictions
  7. Date and sign the agreement
  8. Attach a copy of the original lease

Special Laws

Subleases are subject to tight regulations in California. To prevent avoidable fines, tenants must have a complete understanding of these rules before subletting their apartment. The laws governing subleasing in the state of California are described in this section.

Security Deposits

The security deposit limits for subleasing in California are the same as those for a conventional residential lease.

Obtaining Consent to Sublet

According to California law, tenants must get their landlord's written permission before subletting their apartment. Contrary to other states, subletting in California is at the landlord's choice and is frequently covered in the initial lease. It is doubtful that the lessor will grant permission if the original lease expressly prohibits subletting.

Tenants should use certified mail if they choose to request permission to sublease their apartment. In the event that proof of delivery is eventually required by law, this guarantees it. Included in this written request should be:

  • The sublessee's personal information
  • The sublease's term
  • A copy of the sublease
  • Co-tenants' signatures consenting to the California sublease agreement
  • The sublessor's expected address during the duration of the sublease

After mailing a sublet request, the lessee must wait for the landlord's permission. If a tenant attempts to sublet despite a clause in the lease prohibiting it, the landlord may deny the request. However, if there is no mention of subletting in the initial lease, the landlord can only refuse a request to sublet if there are valid legal grounds.

Increasing the Rent

According to California law, a landlord who sublets a property may increase the monthly rent. To make sure they are getting a reasonable amount of rent and security deposits from the sublessee, it is crucial for the sublessor to bring up this issue with the lessor.

The Eviction Process

If the sublessee violates the terms of the sublease, the sublessor can evict them. Similar to how an eviction between a tenant and a landlord operates, the process between a sublessee and a sublessor also involves eviction.

Sublessor

A sublessor must abide by all California laws governing the security deposit, eviction procedure, and any other landlord-tenant issues, plus the conditions of the original lease and sublease agreement.

Furthermore, a sublessor has the following responsibilities:

  • Giving the sublessee the security deposit back within 21 days after termination of the lease
  • Giving the sublessee three days’ written notice to leave or pay rent

Build a Sublease

If you're hoping to create a professional sublease agreement for your rental property, there are several options you can choose.

You could download a free form to print out (in PDF or Word) or get a free California sublease agreement builder. However, most landlords find these options to be incredibly limiting and time-consuming.

Fortunately, DoorLoop can help! This innovative software solution was designed to help landlords take care of mundane tasks like entering personal details into a lease agreement quickly and easily.

What Is DoorLoop?

DoorLoop was created in response to a growing need for a platform to help manage rental businesses. You can use the software to run background checks, create professional leases, and track rental payments on one intuitive platform.

To see it at work for yourself, schedule a free demo.

eSignature

Lease signing is your biggest opportunity to lay the foundation for a pleasant tenant experience, and that relies on making the process as easy and efficient as possible.

With DoorLoop, you can get your subleases eSigned in a few seconds. You can also get to the eSignature step much more easily by creating reusable sublease templates that are autofilled with tenants' information.

DoorLoop also makes it so simple to find the best tenants in the first place by syndicating your lisitngs on popular websites Zillow, Trulia, Hotpads, Apartments.com, and more. You can also make sure you're bringing in the best tenants by screening your prospects in seconds through DoorLoop.

For more information about DoorLoop, learn more or schedule a free demo.

Conclusion

When all parties respect their written agreements and uphold their obligations as a sublessee, sublessor, and landlord, subleasing may be a very beneficial experience. Subleasing can ultimately protect the sublessor from the consequences of early lease termination if they thoroughly vet their prospective sublessees and enter into an agreement with a reliable person.

FAQs

Is it legal to sublet in California?

Subleasing is legal in California, but the landlord must give the initial renter approval before subletting the property. A sublease is required when the original tenant wants to lease a sizable piece of the property.

Can tenants sublet without getting permission?

No, the landlord must give the initial renter approval before subletting the property. Also, a sublease is required when the original tenant wants to lease a sizable piece of the property.

What is the sublessor’s responsibility when subletting?

A sublessor must abide by all California laws governing the security deposit, eviction procedure, and any other landlord-tenant issues, plus the conditions of the original lease and sublease agreement.

Furthermore, a sublessor has the following responsibilities:

  • Giving the sublessee the security deposit back within 21 days after termination of the lease
  • Giving the sublessee three days’ written notice to leave or pay rent

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David Bitton

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!