Leasing your property to someone else takes a lot of trust. You’re taking on the risk of serious and expensive damage to your property. As a result, you probably take care when deciding who you will allow to rent your property. So, what are your legal obligations when your tenant informs you that they intend to sublease to someone else that you haven’t vetted?
Federal and state law
There are overlapping laws passed by both the federal legislature and the Florida state legislature concerning discrimination in leasing to tenants. The federal Civil Rights Act and Florida fair housing laws prevent landlords from discriminating against tenants on grounds of certain immutable characteristics, such as race, sex and age.
This means that, if you want to prohibit your tenant from subleasing to someone, you can do so. However, you should be ready to provide a justification for your refusal that isn’t based on any of the characteristics that the law prevents you from basing it on. This will help to protect you in case your tenant or the proposed subtenant try to bring a discrimination lawsuit against you.
It is permissible for you to include a clause in your leasing contract that prohibits subletting without your written consent. If this is in your contract, and your tenant tries to sublet without asking you first, it qualifies as a breach of contract. This give you the legal option of evicting your tenant and the subtenant if you want to.
Even if you do give your tenant permission to sublet your property, you still have protections. The law allows you to hold either the subtenant or your original tenant responsible for any damage caused by the subtenant. This means that, if the subtenant vandalizes or otherwise damages your property, you’ll have the option to go after either party for restitution of damages.
The thought of allowing your tenant to sublet your property might make you nervous. Knowing what the law permits will help you to avoid inadvertently doing something that could land you in a lawsuit.