Brick Underground’s best advice on subletting a New York City apartment

By Donna M. Airoldi  | August 14, 2018 - 12:00PM

This furnished studio apartment in the Financial District is available for a minimum of three months for $3,500 a month.


Maybe you have rented an apartment but you need to leave the city for a few months, or leave for good before your lease is up, and find someone to take your place. Or maybe you're looking for an apartment but only want to stay for just a few months. Or you just need an apartment fast for the short term.

Whether you’re the one doing the subletting, or you’re looking to sublet a New York City apartment, Brick Underground has culled the best advice for your subletting needs.

What to know before you become a landlord

The idea of renting out your apartment for a few months, often for the summer season, can seem like a good idea. You get to chill out somewhere less hectic while you (possibly) can make some money on your city pad. Or work has temporarily assigned you to a new office location, but you’ll be back in six months, or a year, so you want to hold onto your apartment. But you can’t just hand over your keys to another person. There are rules to follow, particularly if you want to legally sublet your space.

Check out the six questions you need to research before you put your apartment on the market, as well as the seven things first-time NYC landlords have to know in Brick’s guide to becoming a landlord.

And don’t forget about safety, especially if you’re renting out your apartment fully furnished. Consider your insurance coverage, and don’t be shy about placing those coasters front and center on any furniture you’re worried about.

What about listing on Airbnb?

The city has been cracking down on Airbnb and similar rentals offered for less than 30 days, so it’s best to research what are the latest rules and regulations. Airbnb has a page dedicated to New York City rentals, but it might not be complete. It’s best to check in with the Department of Buildings, the Department of Finance, or consult a lawyer versed in short-term real estate law.

Even if you own a single-family home, you might not be able to legally rent it out or even a room in your house unless it’s for more than 30 days. If less, it needs to be zoned as a rooming house. Read more about this topic in “Can I rent out my NYC house on Airbnb?

Searching for a sublet

Let's say you need to be in New York for a few months, either for a class, a self-imposed sabbatical, or some other reason. Finding a regular rental in the city is challenging enough; looking for a short-term rental can be even more difficult.

Learn how to find a short-term, furnished apartment in NYC without getting scammed. You’ll also want to take precautions to avoid renting an illegal apartment. For advice geared toward summer rentals, check out Brick’s “What you need to know when looking for a summer sublet.

Subletting in co-ops and condos

Most co-ops have strict rules about subletting, usually limiting the practice to one or two years within a five-to-seven-year period. You and your tenant will need board approval, and there’s usually a fee involved. Condo sublet policies can be more liberal. Find out more in Brick’s guide to subletting in a co-op or condo.

If you’re the owner and subletting your co-op, ask about the management fee, since sometimes shareholders don’t read every by-law, and a co-op board may start to charge a fee after the sublet has begun.

And because co-ops typically charge a management fee to sublet, if you’re subletting from a co-op owner, be sure to find out exactly what that fee is and how it will be paid—whether as part of your monthly rent, or as an upfront charge. 

Also, be careful to avoid subletting from an owner who isn’t paying the co-op board and pocketing the money that should be going toward maintenance fees instead. This happened to a renter, and here’s what you can do about it.

If you are a shareholder in a co-op and want to change the rules regarding subletting, read Brick’s article on how to update a sublet policy.

Real-life sublet stories

What good is living in New York if you don’t have a real estate story or two to share at a dinner parties? Here, New Yorker’s speak out about their best and worst sublet experiences—and one tells her tale of surviving five shares in six months.


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