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What is one Important Difference Between a Sublease and a Lease Assignment?

Posted by Kiana Adams

Lease assignment and subletting are two terms that are often used interchangeably, although there is a huge difference between the two in the eyes of the law. Admittedly however, there are many similarities between these two legal terms. They both refer to the passing on of leased property from one lessee to another. This article intends to expound on real estate law- issues with lease assignment and subletting negotiation.

What is lease assignment?
Lease assignment refers to when a tenant or a lessee hands over all the rights they have over a given property to another party. This often happens when a lessee wants to get out of an unexpired lease for any reason. Say for instance in the terms of agreement of your lease you agreed to keep charge of the property for a period of eight months, but by the sixth month you want out of the lease. You are legally allowed to pass over the property to another interested party through the process of lease assignment.

It is important to note that both the process and document of reassignment are known as lease assignment. The very first thing you need to do before all else is to discuss your intentions of lease assignment with your landlord. Have them approve of your decision by signing a document known as a license to assign. This will save you plenty of frustration later on as you go about lease assignment. Once you have completed the process, the landlord will be dealing directly with the new tenant, and you will be free of all your responsibilities as a tenant.

Subletting on the other hand refers to leasing a house or apartment that is already being leased to you. This kind of legal agreement has three parties- the landlord, the tenant or lessee and the sub lessee. Dale Simmons with Stone & Sallus Law (Real Estate Law) outlines, “Getting started with subletting can be easy. The first thing you need to do if you intend to sublet property is to look at your lease agreement in order to determine whether there is such an option in the first place. If it is not indicated on the lease, the general assumption is that subletting is not allowed by your landlord. The landlord can take legal action and you can be evicted otherwise.”

You then need to communicate to the landlord of your intention to sublet the property. Here, unlike in lease assignment, you will have to double up as both a tenant to your landlord and a landlord to the sub lessee. You will be responsible to the landlord in case of any damages to the property, and are generally expected to ensure that utilities are paid for in good time. You will have to establish, collect and document a security deposit. And you would be well advised to take some action to protect yourself legally from extra charges in case of any damages, say by having a written agreement with your sublessee on how to go about any damage done to the property.

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