Sublet laws & Landlord problems

By Kelsey Carvell


I am subletting a room in a 3 bed, 2 bath apartment starting from May 15 and I verbally agreed through August 31. My room is the master bed with an attached (private) bathroom. Upon subletting I filled out an application but did not sign a lease of any kind. Q1: If I have not signed a lease can I legally leave the apartment at any time?

The current lease is ending in August and so the landlord wanted to remodel the bathroom that is shared between the other two people living in the apartment. When he asked when would a good time to do the remodeling I told him that it would be best if he waited until after we moved out in August or until the end of August. I also offered to move out a week early so he could complete the renovations. The landlord said no, that the floor needed to be completed immediately. I was travelling for work Tuesday-Friday and offered that week, but the renovations didn’t start until after I was back.

I asked him what he expected us to do about the situation because there are three people and the one bathroom is inside of my room. He replied that the toilet will be functioning the entire time and that the renovation will only take three days. Neither the toilet nor the shower are in order and have not been for a week and the handyman project will not be for yet another week. Q2: Should we be compensated at all for this trouble?

I cannot sleep when I want to sleep because my two roommates (who are strangers because I am subletting) need me to go to bed late and wake up 2 hours early for work because they need to shower and use the restroom. I just do not feel like this is fair and I sublet the place only because it had the private bathroom. Q3: Is there anything I can do legally so I do not have to pay the whole rent?

Thank you so much for you thoughts and advice, anything is much appreciated!

Edited on: Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 9:41 pm

11 Responses to “Sublet laws & Landlord problems”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


June 25th, 2010 11:16 am

Hey Kelsey,
I’m not 100% certain about your situation.  When you say you are subletting… do you mean that you made arrangements with your roommates to rent the single room?  Or do you mean that you are still renting directly from the landlord but only one bedroom?

Depending on your actual situation, it could give you very different answers.  When I think of subletting, in my mind it means that you have made arrangements with your roommates and not with the landlord.  If that is true, then you could leave and not fear the landlord coming after you as you do not have an arrangement with him.  Ultimately, it would be the responsibility of your roommates.

Ricardo Juarez

June 25th, 2010 11:25 am

Like Stephen said… if you are worried about legal responsibility it really comes down to your actual status.  Are you a true subletter or are you bonifide tenant?  As a tenant your landlord could still send you to collections if you break your lease early.  It would suck to suddenly get notice of an absorbent collections charge.  It could ruin your credit and cost you a lot of money.
I urge you to take caution.  In my book if I have a tenant that skips town and abandons their unit, I do everything in my power to get even.  Yes, there are tools to find you after you move.  Also, if you filled out an application you would have given all the necessary info to send you to collections and ding your credit.  

Based on your situation, you might be able to go after what is called a constructive eviction.  This would allow you to move without penalty based on the fact that the landlord is not providing you with the situation you had agreed to.  Have you tried talking to the landlord directly to tell him that you want to move early due to the hardship he is placing on you?  You might be surprised, he may just work with you.


June 25th, 2010 11:32 am

Stephen- Thank you for your response. I made arrangements with the person I am subletting from who is no longer in the apartment. I have never seen the landlord face to face. I did fill out a rental application online so he could do a credit check but I have not made any arrangements with him.
BigEYES64- I completely agree with you. I said that I would stay, so I should stay, but these are not the terms I agreed too. I do not know the other roommates and it makes me uncomfortable to have them in and out of my private space. They are also both paying 700/mo and i am paying 1200/mo for the private bathroom so I feel it is unfair that I pay that huge portion if I am sharing my bathroom.
Ricardo Juarez- I am going to try to have a meeting with him, thank you so much for the advice.

Kristin Hebdon

June 25th, 2010 11:34 am

I was just going to mention that too– why not file a complaint?  If you are renting from the landlord the complaint option would make the most sense as it would provide you with legal help to resolve your sublet problem.  If you are actually subletting as mentioned above (renting from your roommates and not the landord) then you would have little risk moving.  I doubt your roommates have any ability to hold you to the verbal contract.  

Even your landlord will have a hard time holding you responsible as he failed to get you to sign an agreement.  Personally, I don’t think you would have anything happen if you were to move.  Its possible that it could come back to hurt you, so as a wise move I would still suggest that you handle the situation legally.


June 25th, 2010 11:41 am

Since the landlord is aware and agreed to the arrangement– technically you can be held responsible.  However, most likley the original tenant would be held legally responsible if you were to move. 

You have a tricky situation.  Obviously the landlord is aware of your situation and he does have the required info to really hurt you if he wanted to [Financially speaking]

Someone did brign up the complaint option below.  I think that may be a wise move.  You obviously are renting a unit that isn’t the same as what you had agreed to.  You definitly have right to request a discount if nothing else.

Good luck!  Please update us on what you do…  I’d love to see how this turns out.  Best of luck!

Ricardo Juarez

June 25th, 2010 11:45 am

Good move Kelsey.   Sounds like you’re going to get this worked out.  The meeting is a good idea.  It gives you a starting point to determine how your landlord is going to respond to the situation.  If he is any less than fair or tries to bully you– give him hell.   Don’t let him take advantage of the situation.  You really should not have to share your bathroom, that wasn’t the agreement and is most absolutely a violation of your privacy.


June 25th, 2010 12:07 pm

How much rent would be fair to with hold for the month of July? The entire place 2600/mo, I pay 1200 and they each pay 700.  The work will be 2-4 weeks.


June 25th, 2010 11:19 am

Let me just say this.
Back in the day, a handshake was the rule not a signed piece of paper.  So, if you agreed verbally to stay through August, then you should honor your word regardless of what the law may or may not allow you to do.  I really can’t tell you if you are legally obligated to stay or not.


June 25th, 2010 11:28 am

I’m new here– but couldn’t you file a complaint?  I see all over this site that you can file a complaint.  I was reading on the complaint page that you can file a complaint about any rental situation and the RPA will assign a mediator to help resolve the problem legally.  It looks like there is a charge of $35; but I think that would make sense.  Why risk moving unless you are certain you can.  I would tell you to do the complaint thing.   Anybody else know if that would work for her?


June 25th, 2010 10:52 pm

If you were my tenant this is how I would structure the discount.
I would give a discount per diem (per day) that you were required to share your bathroom.   I would either take the total square footage and deduct the amount of the bathroom, or I would compare how much the bathroom added to your rent and deduct that amount.
If the other roommates are paying 700 dollars and the only difference is the bathroom, then you should be able to prorate the discount based upon the extra 500 dollars you pay each month to have the bathroom.  If that is the case; take the 500 dollars and divide it by 30.  This will give you the pro-rated daily amount for your discount.  (I did the math for you)  So $16.67 is the daily amount.  For pro-rations sake, round up to $17.  So, if you are required to share your bathroom for 10 days– you could ask for $170 discount and so on.
I hope that helps!!
:) Jane


October 16th, 2012 11:34 pm

I have a question , my landlord rents the house from the bank, and the bank doesnt know there are 4 of us subletting,and our landlord is getting evicted,what can we do?


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