VOLUME 6RThe Short-Term Sublease Solution for Renters
By Cameron Austin
Rent is still due every month regardless of how many nights tenants spend in their homes. But what if instead of the condo or home sitting empty while renters are on vacation or visiting family, they found a short-term sublease to occupy the space?

Subletting is a common way for tenants to transfer a portion of their lease to a new person, absolving them of their lease terms. Subleasing, on the other hand, does not involve updating the landlord’s lease. Tenants who sublease earn extra money for temporary stays, ranging anywhere from one night to a month. However, they are still contractually obligated to follow the landlord’s lease. For example, Airbnb hosts sublease instead of sublet.

In either case, strict lease agreements combined with local and state laws often make these arrangements more complex. How can tenants rent out their units? And how should they approach the conversation with their landlord? Find out here.

Check the Lease
A tenant's first step when arranging a sublease (or sublet) should be to read the lease to see what is allowed. It’s common for leases to have clauses that prevent subletting and subleasing. If there is no mention of either option in the signed lease, don’t assume that they are automatically allowed.

Texas Property Code 91.005 states “SUBLETTING PROHIBITED. During the term of a lease, the tenant may not rent the leasehold to any other person without the prior consent of the landlord.”

Meanwhile, the Soto Law Office, located in Altamonte Springs, Florida, states that, “In Florida, tenants are allowed to sublet their apartments unless it is specifically forbidden by the landlord in their lease contract.” To be on the safe side, Floridian tenants should ask whether missing subletting or subleasing language is an oversight on the lease or permitted.

While popular subleasing companies such as Airbnb do not require tenants to submit a lease, it’s up to the tenant to follow all landlord guidelines.

“Airbnb advises Hosts to check all local rules and regulations, including with their landlord and lease, if applicable,” said Jesse Stein, Airbnb’s Global Head of Real Estate.

Outside of the lease, if the rental is part of a condo association (COA), the landlord would have to enforce the Rules and Regulations. This means even a landlord who is sublease-friendly may have to get approval from the condo board anyway.

Convincing a Landlord to Permit Subleasing
Even if Airbnb doesn’t require landlord verification, tenants can face serious consequences if they list their rental when their lease or local laws forbid it. Depending on the local laws, tenants can be fined or even criminally charged for operating a business without a license. If the lease has a clause against subleasing, there are a few ways tenants can navigate the conversation.

  • Be transparent about subleasing upfront to avoid any surprises. Tenants should have a direct conversation about their intentions to sublease the unit. By being direct, they can get ahead of potential landlord-tenant conflict (and by default, landlord-COA conflict).
  • Come prepared for damage queries. Tenants should do their research about resources and rules to prepare for the conversation with their landlord. Airbnb offers several resources for tenants and landlords looking to host a home, including Airbnb Cover. This program will offer “top-to-bottom” protection for hosts, including damage protection and liability insurance. Additionally, tenants can outline the proposed rules that will be in effect during the sublease.
  • Pitch the subleasing benefits and understand objections. While landlords have the final say, tenants should ask questions to understand their objections and concerns.
  • Keep all rental parties informed. Airbnb also offers tools that can keep building managers or condo boards informed about the hosting activity of a home, such as allowing them to view any upcoming bookings, writing reviews about guests and providing visibility into guest messages on the Airbnb platform.

This added security and research can help a landlord feel more at ease about a short-term sublease.

Airbnb Friendly Apartments
(Editor’s Note: Although Go4Rent does have rentals available for multi-unit condos, we do not currently handle property management or leasing for apartments.)

The idea of short-term subleasing has grown in popularity, especially after the launch of a new program called Airbnb-friendly apartments. The program partners with apartment buildings in major metropolitan areas to offer a seamless subleasing experience. Tenants in single-family homes and condo rentals may be interested in testing out the waters as a landlord with these secondary rentals. By doing this, they avoid the landlord-negotiating process altogether.

“By finding their next home through Airbnb-friendly apartments, renters now have a landlord-supported way to earn money while they travel,” said Stein. “Working in tandem with their landlord, renters can reap the economic benefits of hosting through Airbnb, to earn extra money to help pay their rent, save to buy a home, or just enjoy a little more financial freedom during a time of economic uncertainty.”

Although the program is only available with specific apartment buildings that have partnered with Airbnb, it can help offset the high cost of living in urban areas while providing flexibility to hosts who only want to rent over short periods convenient to them. Currently, the program is available through specific rental buildings in 29 cities, including Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Jose in Texas; and Gainesville, Jacksonville, Kissimmee, Miami and Tampa in Florida.

On the Airbnb-friendly apartment website, tenants can easily see their earning potential and list their apartments for a set number of nights each month.

House Hacking 101Another way tenants can generate income from short-term rentals is by house hacking. Documented in reality show host Brian Page’s show “House Hackers,” this means finding a property with a prime location, asking the landlord for approval to use it as a rental, gaining that approval and then leasing it out.

The difference between house hacking and other forms of short-term subleasing is that the tenant goes into the lease with the primary goal of renting out the property to generate passive income. In both cases, tenants could also list a single room for rent. However, in the latter case, the landlord knows from the moment the lease is signed that this property can consistently used for short-term leasing.

Alternatives to Short-Term Subleasing: Subletting
If a landlord won’t allow the home to be subleased on platforms such as Airbnb, another option is finding a replacement tenant to undergo a traditional screening process. In this situation, the current tenant would sublet for a portion of the original lease duration. This would involve the same vetting process as the tenant, including a walk-through, application screening and security deposit collection.

Whether a tenant is subletting or subleasing, short-term rentals have become more popular thanks to platforms that make listing a rental easy and accessible, even for those who don’t own a property. While tenants are at the mercy of local laws and their landlord's approval, when done appropriately, subleasing and house hacking can help renters offset their living costs and make passive income.