A Washington, DC sublease agreement allows the original lease tenant to rent out all or part of their rental property to a new tenant (or “subtenant”). Subletting is generally used by tenants living in Washington, DC, to cut some of the cost of renting a property. However, tenants can also fully sublease their rental to a subtenant if they simply want to live elsewhere.
Washington, DC, boasts one of the fastest-growing real estate markets in the country, though quite a few of its residents don’t live there year-round. This can make subleasing (or subletting) a rental property a good decision for many people.
In a Washington, DC sublease, the subtenant remains bound to all the same terms and conditions in the original lease agreement. However, the original tenant doesn’t suddenly escape their responsibilities as a tenant — they remain liable for any damage to the property, unpaid rent, or other breaches of the original lease agreement caused by the subtenant.
How to Write a Washington, DC Sublease Agreement
Washington, DC, has stricter landlord-tenant laws than many other areas, so it’s important to have your landlord’s written permission before proceeding with a sublease agreement.
- Select your property type – Generally, this will be a house, townhouse, apartment, or condominium.
- List the address of the apartment, house, or condo being subleased.
- List the names of the current tenant or tenants (sublessors) – This should include your name and anyone else whose name is included on the original lease.
- List the names of the new tenant or tenants (subtenants) – This should include the names of the people signing the lease and the names of anyone else who plans to live on the property.
- List the address where you would like the subtenants to send rent and notices – If you’re subletting part of a property you plan to continue to live in, this is normally the address of the rental property. In other cases, it can be another address or a P.O. box.
- List the name and address of the landlord and attach a copy of the original lease – Because the subtenants will be bound by all the same covenants and restrictions of the original lease, they need to be on notice of what this lease requires. Ensure you don’t provide the subtenants with your only copy of the lease.
- Add any additional information about the property the subtenants need to know – For example, will the tenant have access to the entire rental unit or just a portion? Are there outside parking facilities available? What about community amenities like a pool, gym, or clubhouse? By setting this out in the sublease agreement, you can ensure that you, your landlord, and the subtenant(s) are on the same page when using the property. This can also be a good opportunity to list any restrictions associated with the property, like a no-smoking rule or a limit on pet sizes.
- List the start and end dates for the term of the sublease – Just make sure the sublease doesn’t run beyond the expiration of the underlying lease.
- List the amount you plan to charge for rent (and utilities, if applicable) – This section of the sublease agreement should set out the full amount of rent due under the original lease. It also includes the rent the subtenant must pay and the cost of utilities (if any). This section can also include any information on required deposits or pet deposits.
Washington, DC Sublease Laws
You should check your original lease agreement to see if you can sublet your apartment. It’s recommended that a tenant receive written permission from their landlord before subletting in Washington, DC. Once you’ve filled out a Washington, DC, sublease agreement, you will be responsible for your subtenant and liable for any violations of the original lease.
A sublessor must honor the terms of the sublease agreement (as well as the original lease) and follow all Washington, DC, laws regarding the eviction process, security deposits, and all other landlord-tenant matters.
Washington, DC Landlord-Tenant Laws:
- Code of the District of Columbia: Title 42, Chapters 32-36A
- District of Columbia Municipal Regulations: Title 14, Chapter 14-3
In Washington, DC, a sublessor must:
- Give a subtenant thirty days (30) written notice to pay rent or leave
- Return the security deposit within forty-five days (45) of the end of the sublease
- Provide thirty days (30) written notice of your intent not to renew the sublease and/or original lease
Washington, DC Sublease FAQs
Is subletting illegal in Washington, DC?
No, subletting isn’t illegal in Washington, DC, unless the original lease agreement specifically forbids it.
Can a tenant sublet without permission in Washington, DC?
All tenants must receive permission from their landlord before they’re allowed to sublet an apartment or house in Washington, DC, even if the lease agreement otherwise allows subletting.
Can a landlord reject a proposed sublease agreement?
A landlord may reject a request to sublet only for “reasonable” reasons, which can include:
1) the proposed subtenant’s income, credit history, and other evidence of financial responsibility (or lack thereof)
2) whether the proposed use or occupancy is legal (e.g., a tenant can’t sublet a 2-bedroom apartment to 8 people if local zoning codes limit occupancy to 2 people per bedroom)
3) whether the tenant’s proposed use is compatible with other tenants’ property uses.
How can Washington, DC tenants get out of a sublease agreement?
Under DC law, a sublessor must evict a subtenant through the same eviction process used if the original landlord wants to remove the sublessor (the original tenant) from the property.