After Subletting, Is Holder of Lease Still Liable?

September 12, 2008 - NYTIMES.COM - BY JAY ROMANO


My wife recently sublet her market-rate apartment to two people. The subtenants, along with a third person, did not move out when my wife’s lease expired on July 31, but asked if they could sign a renewal lease. The management company has stated that everyone has to be out of the apartment or the landlord will take legal action. Is my wife liable for anything relating to the subletters after her lease expired?


“In free-market situations, when a lease expires, a tenant on the lease is typically expected to surrender the space free and clear of any occupants and personal belongings,” said Glenn H. Spiegel, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. So, Mr. Spiegel said, the wife, as the named tenant on the lease, would be liable for the fair market “rent” or “use and occupancy” that comes due until the landlord can recover possession of the apartment.

“If an eviction proceeding is commenced, the tenant on the lease may also be responsible for other charges including, but not limited to, the landlord’s reasonable attorneys’ fees,” he said. “The tenant may also be liable for any apartment repair costs — other than for ordinary wear and tear — and for cleaning, locksmith, movers and other eviction related expenses.”

Mr. Spiegel said that to determine the extent of the tenant’s liability, she should review the provisions of the lease and any sublease with a lawyer.