Massachusetts Residential Sublease Agreement

The Massachusetts sublease agreement allows a tenant to rent (“sublease”) all or part of a rental property to a new tenant (“sublessee”). This contract states that the sublessee must make regular payments that may or may not be equivalent to the rental obligation of the initial tenant’s lease.

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 sublessee 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 sublessee can pay rent to the original tenant (who is considered the sublessor) 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 sublessees 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 sublessor (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 sublessee. 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 sublessee 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 sublessor and sublessee 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 sublessee 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 Massachusetts.

For the Original Tenant

One of these agreements can be beneficial to a prospective sublessor 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 sublessee. The sublessee 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 sublessee 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 sublessee takes on all the financial burdens associated with the unit, then the previous tenant will have no problems until the sublessee takes on a lease once the previous one has expired. Still, for this reason, it’s critical that the sublessor perform background checks on the sublessee so that there are no potential problems that will reflect on the sublessor 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 sublessee 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 sublessee 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 sublessee 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.