Prevent Problems Before they Start Avoiding Subletting Nightmares

Maria and her husband Jim own a suburban condo, but are moving out of the area because of Jim's new job. The couple love their home however, and are hoping one day that they will relocate back to the area. Alex loves his two-bedroom urban co-op, but he'll be on the road for his job for the next year and doesn't want to lose his residence either.

In both situations, renting their apartments out to a sub-tenant seems like the ideal solution for both parties—the renters can obtain temporary housing, and the owner/shareholders won't lose their home.

Profit vs. Pain

It's not uncommon for co-op and/or condo owners to rent their apartments to sub-tenants as a way of making money on a space they won't be occupying for an extended period of time. Common as it is however, subletting isn't necessarily a welcome tradition among boards and managers, for whom renters sometimes represent headaches rather than solutions.

"There is both legitimacy and exaggeration in the effects of leasing," says Jerome Liebowitz of Liebowitz & Jurecky Esqs. in Fort Lee.

"Leasing is typically frowned upon because of the perception that lessees cannot be expected to take the same pride in a community or building as an owner would," Liebowitz continues."Where there are a large percentage of leased units, the absence of resident owners may decrease the number of owners who are willing to run for boards or become involved in committees.That said, many communities and buildings that have very few leased units suffer from apathy and lack of involvement."


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  • PLease review the sublet statute again. The only way that the renting of units due to inability to sell applies is if the coop forbids renting - which only applies if the coop has NEVER allowed renting. However, if the proprietary lease permits renting, and/or if renting has occurred, an owner can rent at will subject to the "reasonable" terms and conditions the board imposes on subletting units. The term "reasonable" turns up a few times in the statute: 46:8D-13.1. Many coops illegally restrict subletting because this law has been misinterpreted.