Customize a Massachusetts residential sublease agreement (above) and read further about subletting laws in Massachusetts, required disclosures, optional addendums and what other Massachusetts landlord-tenant laws apply to residential sublease agreements.
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What is a Sublease Agreement?
With a sublease agreement, a tenant takes on another renter so that he or she may reduce the financial burden of a tenancy. Sometimes, the tenant does this because he or she wishes to vacate the property for a period of time without having to pay rent or he or she may only sublet part of the property to split the required rent payment. In any situation, the new renter is called the sub-lessee or subtenant, and he or she will have to fill out the new sublease in order to be protected in a similar way to a standard lease. With a sublease, the sub-lessee can pay rent to the original tenant (who is considered the sub-lessor) or the landlord.
Subletting Laws in Massachusetts
Based on Commonwealth law, a landlord is not permitted to unreasonably withhold permission for a primary tenant to sublet unless a ban on subletting has been explicitly stated in the original lease. Also, a tenant must attain written approval from a landlord if he or she is looking to sublet. Tenants should also send a letter via certified mail with a return-receipt requested so that there is documented evidence of the request being tendered. Illegal sub-lessees can be deemed trespassers by the landlord, and the presence of an unauthorized tenant can be grounds for a for-cause eviction against the primary tenant.
What to Include in a Massachusetts Sublease Agreement
- The name of the involved parties. In this case, it’ll be the sub-lessor (original tenant) and the sub-lessee.
- The address of the unit as well as any side streets or associated unit or building numbers.
- The rent value that’s payable each month by the sub-lessee. Information on how to pay the rent should be provided as well as any info on late payments.
- The security deposit info. This can include the maximum period of time in which the landlord must return the deposit.
- The terms, which include the date that the sublease ends and begins. If the sub-lessee will be able to renew the lease, then information about this will need to be provided. Information about the procedures for vacating the premises as well as periods of notification will need to be provided.
- There needs to be a space for both parties to sign, print, and date the document.
With a sublease agreement, a standard renter who lives under a fixed-term lease will have options that they might not have if they in most circumstances. One of the chief drawbacks to a fixed-term lease is that it can come with some severe repercussions for those that break the agreement – the least of which is a negative credit outcome. With one of these unique agreements, the tenant will effectively become the landlord in a sub-lessor and sub-lessee arrangement, and the original landlord will have little to do with the new sublease.
Massachusetts has a somewhat unique experience when it comes to breaking a lease; the state actually has protections for the tenant as long as the tenant provides the landlord with a replacement renter. That being said, this situation can sometimes be tenuous, so it’s a good idea to opt for taking on a sub-lessee at least in the short term until the lease term has ended.
Writing a Massachusetts Sublease Agreement
Due to the complex nature of a sublease agreement and the additional responsibility that a sublessor must assume, it is critical to use a sublease agreement form that is detailed and state-specific. This guide contains step-by-step instructions for creating a basic sublease agreement template that is legally compliant in the state of Alaska.
For the Original Tenant
One of these agreements can be beneficial to a prospective sub-lessor in multiple ways. For example, if the original tenant is dwelling off-campus in a college town like Amherst, Northampton, or Cambridge, then he or she may still wish to return home in the off-semester. When this is the case, he or she will either need to pay the rent for the time they are out of town or take on a sub-lessee. The sub-lessee will live in the off-campus unit for the period when the original tenant is away and will be responsible for paying the rent and the utilities in the unit.
Additionally, if the original tenant is opting not to return to the property, he or she can still take on a sub-lessee until the lease expires naturally. In this situation, the original lessee won’t be disadvantaged and miss out on more favorable housing opportunities. As long as the sub-lessee takes on all the financial burdens associated with the unit, then the previous tenant will have no problems until the sub-lessee takes on a lease once the previous one has expired. Still, for this reason, it’s critical that the sub-lessor perform background checks on the sub-lessee so that there are no potential problems that will reflect on the sub-lessor during the remainder of the original lease.
For the Sub-Lessee
For the subleasing renter, this is also a very beneficial arrangement. For example, if the sub-lessee is going to only be staying in an area for a limited time period, then the only two viable options will be a month-to-month lease or a sublease. Month-to-month leases, which are called at-will leases, can be very freeing, but a landlord really doesn’t have a limit on raising the rent. With a sublease, the new renter will fall under the same rates of the original lease, which can only change once the original lease period has expired.
Also, this is a great way to latch onto a property that may not have any vacancies or where there’s a waitlist; the prospective sub-lessee can find out if there are any potential subleases, and they can get in on the ground floor so to speak.
How to Sublease in Massachusetts
With an agreement like this, it is absolutely critical that the original lease is studiously consulted. Massachusetts states that subleasing is completely legal, as long as it’s not expressly forbidden in the content of the original fixed-term lease. Next, after it’s confirmed that subleasing is permitted in the unit, then the tenant who is on the lease should contact the landlord or the management company responsible for the property. This will confirm the stance of these parties, and it will also make the tenant’s intent to sublease known.
A document stating this intent can be sent via either certified or first-class mail, and in the document, the name of the prospective sub-lessee should be clearly included. This will allow the landlord or the management company to perform standard background checks on the new renter. In addition to this information, the original tenant can also include documentation describing the reason for the subleasing agreement.
Finally, the document should also provide a forwarding address as well as a copy of the new sublease agreement. The forwarding address can be used by the landlord or management company to forward essential documents to the tenant. Additionally, if problems spring up, this provides a means for the landlord to reach the tenant so that he or she can be notified. The copy of the sublease will also make it clear to the landlord the specific rules that have been set forth in the new agreement.
How to Write a Sublease Agreement
In many situations, a sublease agreement will cover the majority of the rules that were established in the original lease, but in some cases, some sub-lessors may add their own stipulations and protections. In any case, the agreement will need to be ironclad so that the majority of situations can have a framework that’s usable by the courts should there be any contention. Here are a few sections that will need to be covered in the agreement:
The Involved Parties
Like with a standard lease agreement, the first pieces of information that should be presented on a sublease agreement are the names of the parties that are signing the document. For clarity, all parties should include their full names, including either their middle initial or full middle name.
The Forwarding Address
While the forwarding information will have needed to be provided to the landlord, it should also be included in the sublease agreement. This provides the new sub-lessee with a means to forward mail or important correspondence to the original tenant. Not only is this convenient, but the address can also be used as a place to send rental payments so that the original tenant can deliver them to the landlord.
The Physical Parameters of the Sublease
In those situations where only a portion of the unit is being subleased to a renter, the precise area that’s being rented should be outlined in the agreement. This is useful for those situations where the original renter is renting a room or a few rooms and doesn’t want to disturb the arrangement between themselves and the landlord.
While these sublease agreements aren’t the same as fixed-term leases, it’s still a good idea to include the precise term of the sublease for the sake of clarity. This will alert the sub-lessee about when the move-in and move-out days are.
Information about the Payment of Rent and Utilities
As might be expected, the on-time payment rent of utilities is absolutely essential, especially since the onus of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of the original renter. For this reason, the sublease agreement will need to explicitly state several aspects of the rent-paying process. This includes the exact amount that’s due each month for rent, additional rent charges, and the property’s policy on late payment. Additionally, the precise payment date needs to be clearly presented. For shorter subleases, the total rent that will be due for the entirety of the term can also be presented. Similarly, the value that’s due for utilities, how they are metered, due dates, and payment methods will also need to be provided for the sub-lessee.
The Security Deposit
In the commonwealth of Massachusetts, there are several laws on the book that pertains to the security deposit, and these can be applied to those that sign a sublease agreement as well. First, it’s important to note that Massachusetts limits the amount potentially collected for the security deposit to the same value as one month’s rent. Also, the landlord must place the deposit in an interest-bearing account within the state.
When a tenant is effectively moving out but is subletting for the remaining lease period, the sub-lessee can opt to pay the security deposit, which will effectively pass along the return of the fee. The sublease agreement should note that, based on Massachusetts law, the landlord must return the security deposit within 30 days of the property becoming vacant – barring that there’s no damage to the property.
Terms of the Original Lease
In the penultimate section, the terms of the original lease will need to be included so that the sub-lessee will understand his or her responsibilities. For example, if there is a no-pet clause in the original lease, then the precise wording presented in this document should be included in the sublease agreement. This should also be done for any other essential terms that are present in the lease for things like smoking, noise levels, and guest policy.
Finally, to close the document, the involved parties will have to sign to indicate consent. After the signature, there should also be spaces for the printed name as well as the date of the signing. Once this information is recorded, underneath the binding signature section, there should also be a space for the landlord or his or her representative to sign their consent for the arrangement. There can also be a checkbox to note if a copy of the original lease has been included.