Washington D.C. Sublease Agreement

Last Updated: March 8, 2022 by Elizabeth Souza

The Washington D.C. Sublease Agreement is a legal document that allows an initial tenant (“sublessor”) to rent (“sublease”) a rental property to a new tenant (“sublessee”) in exchange for a fee. This contract commonly allows a new tenant to take over the original lease, commonly known as subletting.

This arrangement places the original tenant in the role of both tenant and landlord, who’s responsible for maintaining an agreement with two different people.

If a person needs to move before their lease ends because their job transferred or some other reason, subleasing the property can be a positive solution. The person subletting the rental property can pay the original tenant, while the original tenant pays the landlord.

If a tenant has a job that requires them to travel a lot, subleasing their apartment may be the best option. Properties that are left vacant for extended periods will eventually look abandoned and become vulnerable to criminal activity or being damaged because of lack of maintenance. Also, subleasing can be an excellent way to make extra money.

Once the tenant has taken the necessary actions to ensure they have a right to sublease the property, the tenant may enter into a sublease agreement with the sublessee. Any agreement the original tenant makes with a sublessee must follow the same requirements outlined in the original lease agreement.

Under the original lease agreement, the original tenant remains responsible to the landlord for the property. If the sublessee violates any terms of their sublease agreement and it causes a breach in contract to the original lease, the original tenant has the responsibility of correcting that contract breach. For example, if the sublessee moves out without paying their rent, the original tenant may sue the sublessee for the rent, but the original tenant must still pay rent to the landlord.

Writing a Washington D.C. Sublease Agreement

The next few paragraphs explain in detail the sections of a sublease agreement, including step-by-step instructions for accomplishing a sublease agreement template that is legally compliant in the state of Washington D.C.


The first section of the sublease agreement should identify the parties entering into the sublease agreement and the property address.
On the first blank, enter the name of the person subleasing the property, which is known as the lessor. The next blank should contain the name of the person renting the property, known as the sublessee. The third blank in this paragraph should include the address of the property being subleased, known as the premises.


This is an agreement to sublet rental property (known as the “Sublease”) between __________ (known as the “Sublessor”) and ___________________ (known as the “Sublessee”). The Sublessor agrees to sublet, and the Sublessee agrees to take possession of the property located at ______________________ (known as the “Premises”) under the following conditions:

Sublease Term

The next section should outline the tenancy of the sublease agreement. The beginning date and the ending date should be listed. Also included is a statement explaining that there will be no holdover by the sublessee.


Tenancy of the sublease begins with the sublessee taking possession of the property on the ___ day of ____ and ending on the ___ day of ____. The property is not permitted to be used as a holdover by the sublessee.


The next section specifies the amount of the rent, the date the rent is due, and the method in which the rent should be paid.


The rent under this sublease agreement shall be in the amount of ________. It will be paid on ______of every ______week _____month. The rent will be paid in the following manner: ____________________.


The utilities are listed in the next section and state whether the sublessor and the sublessee are responsible for the payment of those utilities.


The following utilities will be paid by the sublessor:


This section contains a statement holding the subtenant or sublessee responsible for the payment of rent. Additionally this section may also hold the sublessee liable for any damages made to the property, the costs of repair of which is to be deducted from the security deposit.


The next section is a statement specifying whether the sublessee is permitted to have guests on the property and if so, under what circumstances.

Security Deposit

This section specifies the dollar amount of the security deposit required at the beginning of the tenancy. Also specified is the number of days the security deposit is to be refunded to the sublessee at the end of the lease.


The sublessor requires a security deposit in the amount of ______________, which will be paid at the beginning of the term . . . . The security deposit will be refunded to the sublessee within ______ days after the sublease agreement has ended, and the sublessee has moved out of the property.

Move-in Checklist

Consideration shall be given to whether the sublessor and sublessee will complete a move-in checklist and the appropriate box checked. Completing a move-in checklist will document the condition of the property when the sublessee moved in.


____ Is required to complete a move-in checklist.
____ Is not required to complete a move-in checklist.

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure

Check the box to indicate the possibility of the property containing lead-based paint based on the date the property was built.


_____The property was built before 1978.
_____The property was not built before 1978.

Master Lease

The sublessee should be made aware of the terms of the original lease and their responsibility to ensure those terms are not violated. The sublessor should provide the sublessee with a copy of the master lease agreement.


This section contains a statement specifying that disputes should be negotiated among the sublessor and sublessee before any formal litigation.

Written Agreement

This statement explains that all the terms of the sublease agreement are outlined in the written sublease agreement, and that oral contracts are not binding.


The words sublessor and sublessee refer to the person or persons entering into the lease agreement and have no bearing on the gender of the person.

Smoking Policy

The box should be checked to indicate whether smoking is permitted on the premises. (Smoking refers to legal tobacco products only and does not pertain to products that are illegal under the law.)


______ Smoking is allowed on the property.
______ Smoking is not permitted on the property.

Original Copies

The sublessee will be provided a copy of the sublease agreement containing original signatures.

The appropriate box should be checked regarding the landlord’s position on whether subletting the property is allowed. If the landlord does not grant the tenant permission to sublease the property, the sublease agreement will be void and any deposits collected will be returned.


____ The landlord permits subletting.
____ The landlord does not allow subletting.

Governing Law

This section notifies the parties that the governing laws for the sublease agreement will be those of the state of Washington D.C.

Additional Terms or Conditions

Any additional legal agreements made between the sublessor and sublessee that are not necessarily covered on a standard sublease agreement will be entered in this section.


Additional terms or conditions _______________________________________________________

Signature and Date

The date that the sublease agreement shall take effect should be listed on the blanks in this section.


This sublease agreement shall be effective on the ____ of ______.

Sublessor’s Signature

Enter the signature of the sublessor, date, and the printed name of the sublessor.


Sublessor’s signature____________________ Date ___________


Co-Sublessor’s Signature

Enter the signature of the co-sublessor, date, and the printed name of the co-sublessor.


Co-Sublessor’s signature ____________________ Date ___________

Print _________________________

Sublessee’s Signature

Enter the signature of the Sublessee, date, and the printed name of the Sublessee.


Sublessee’s signature ____________________ Date ___________

Print _________________________

Co-Sublessee’s Signature

Enter the signature of the co-sublessee, date, and the printed name of the co-sublessee.


Co-Sublessee’s signature____________________ Date ___________


The landlord must sign the sublease agreement to give their consent. The sublessor should attach a copy of the original lease. The landlord’s name and initials should be included in this section as verification as to the authenticity of the original lease agreement.


Attached to the sublease should be any legal addendums covering any items not included in the sublease agreement.

Washington D.C. Specific Considerations

According to the “Residential Lease Clarification Amendment Act of 2016”, also known as “the Act” (DC Law 21-210), landlords may prohibit subletting the property. If a landlord does not want to allow a tenant to sublease their property, they should include a clause that specifically states this in the lease agreement.
Tenants who wish to sublease property should check the lease agreement first before proceeding. If the lease permits subleasing, the tenant must receive the landlord’s approval before subletting. The landlord can provide rental qualification guidelines for the subtenant.
Below are important consideration to keep in mind on the subject of subletting property in the state of Washington D.C.

In seeking a landlord’s permission to sublet the property, the tenant should send the landlord a certified letter, with return receipt requested. Although Washington D.C. doesn’t specify how a tenant should ask for approval, it is common practice to send a letter.
In the letter, the landlord should be notified of the reason why the tenant is seeking permission to sublease the property. The letter should contain as much useful information as possible, such as the name of the prospective sublessee and their address. In addition to the letter, the tenant should also give the landlord a copy of the sublease agreement.

Landlord Response to Request

The landlord should reply with a response to the letter with their approval or denial within thirty days of receiving the written request. If the landlord does not respond in writing, the tenant can assume consent to sublet the property has been granted. If the request is rejected, the tenant cannot proceed with subletting the property.

In cases where a subletting clause was not included in the lease agreement, it is the landlord’s prerogative to approve or deny a tenant’s request for sublease.
Landlords may reject a tenant’s request to sublet the property for “reasonable” reasons. Examples of reasonable grounds for rejection or denial include the tenant having a history of delayed rent payments, insufficient income, or unemployment. Landlords may also refuse the request based on the intended use of the property or the nature of the occupancy is incompatible with other tenants.
Examples of unreasonable grounds for rejecting a sublease agreement are the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Family Status
  • Disability
  • Personal Appearance
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Gender Identity or Expression
  • Family Responsibilities
  • Political Affiliation
  • Matriculation
  • Marital Status
  • Source of Income
  • Place of Residence
  • Status as a Victim of an Intra-Family Offense

Sublessor’s Responsibility

The sublessor, as the property’s original tenant, should exercise care and responsibility in upholding and complying with all conditions and provisions provided in the master lease, including making sure that rent is being paid on time. That said, the sublessor must conduct a thorough background on the sublessee before subletting a property, and must make sure that the sublessee has the financial capacity to pay rent on time.