When you rent a house or apartment, you may think it is yours for the duration of the lease. While it is your home, you already know you cannot do things like repaint the walls without getting your landlord's permission or having to pay damages when you move out. What about using an app to rent out your couch or spare bedroom for a night or weekend? If you need to move before your lease ends, can you let someone else take it over? It depends on your lease and local laws.
Your lease is a contract that states what you can and cannot do with the home you are renting. As a general rule, you can do anything your lease does not prohibit. Lease terms you need to watch out for include the following:
For short-term rentals, you should also be aware that state and local laws and ordinances may prohibit them or set restrictions. You would need to follow those laws even if your lease has no restrictions on short-term rentals.
Landlords have several valid concerns about tenants renting out their rented home. If your landlord will not let you do it, ask them why. If you can address their concerns, they may be willing to change their rules or make an exception. Landlords may be worried about tenants renting out the property for the following reasons:
If you violate your lease with unauthorized short-term rentals or subletting, it could lead to your eviction. At a minimum, your landlord has the right to serve you with a notice to cure or quit. This means that your options are to stop your rental activities or to leave the property you are renting. If you choose to leave, you will be liable for the remaining amount of the lease just as in any other situation where you broke a lease by moving out early. Depending on the terms of your lease and local laws, your landlord may have the option to go directly to court to seek an eviction without giving you an opportunity to remain in the unit.
If your lease is silent on short-term rentals or subletting, it generally means they are permitted by your lease if they are legal in your area. Your landlord got a chance to say no when they signed the lease, and their failing to do so implies consent.
A lease is a binding contract through its expiration date. Neither you nor your landlord can change it on your own.
If you want a change to your lease, such as being allowed to rent out your second bedroom on an app, you can negotiate with your landlord to change the lease or sign a new lease. If your landlord wants to make a change, such as banning short-term rentals, they can either negotiate with you to make the change or wait until the lease expires.
Once the lease expires, your landlord can amend your lease by adding new terms as a condition of accepting it. You can try to negotiate, but your landlord has the right to make it a 'take it or leave it' offer. If your landlord was particularly upset by your rental activities, they can refuse to renew your lease under any circumstances. Keep this in mind if your lease is silent on short-term rentals and you are deciding whether to talk to your landlord or just do it.
As a general rule, if a provision in a lease breaks the law then that provision of the lease is invalid, but the rest of the lease remains in effect. Some jurisdictions do not allow restrictions on guests, roommates, or sub-letters or restrict a landlord's ability to withhold consent. For example, you may have to add someone to the lease, but the landlord may not be able to say no to doing so if that person can pass their usual background checks.
These laws were not passed to allow short-term rentals. Instead, they were passed to allow for situations like someone having to move for a new job, or a family member or significant other moving in. If you try to push the boundaries of the law to force your landlord to allow short-term rentals and end up in court, the judge may not be sympathetic to your argument if it falls in a legal gray area.
Whether you want to rent out a room or your entire home, or you want a short-term or long-term renter, then if you are a renter yourself it all comes down to your lease agreement. In addition, there are a few more steps to take to protect yourself.