THE NEW YORK POST - Renter's Delight Blog
Q: I am being transferred to LA for a year, but I still want my apartment when I get back. Do I have a right to sublet? If not, how do I sublet without getting into trouble?
A: You should ask permission from your landlord in writing before subletting your place, and he or she, in turn, must provide you with written consent. The landlord can refuse without cause. But almost everyone has been on one side or another of a sublet (legal or otherwise). "As long as the rent's paid on-time and there are no noise complaints, it's the kind of thing landlords turn a blind eye to," says Peter Hungerford of apartment-hunting site UrbanSherpaNY.com. But every once in a while, you'll find a stickler. "If you have a nosy landlord who you see all the time in the building, it's probably not going to work," says Jeff Vogel, a Citi Habitats Citi Habitats senior associate. It also might be a good idea to have a local friend mail in your rent checks and have your subletter use a PO Box. But be careful, some landlords have been known to go so far as hire detectives to stake out your place.
Q: It's time to move out, but my landlord doesn't want to give me back my security deposit. What now?
A: Security deposits are tricky things. Landlords are notorious for not letting go of them easily. If you're worried that the scratch on your wall might cost you a couple hundred bucks, it might be worth it to buy some paint. And while you're at it, get the place cleaned. Don't give your landlord any excuses. (You should take pictures when you move into a new place to show any damage that existed before you got there.) You sometimes even find deposit scams. "I actually have a friend who was looking to move in with his sister," says UrbanSherpaNY.com's Mike Jacobs. "His sister [asked] her broker if she could find someone to take her place before the end of the month," so she could recoup her deposit. She didn't hear back. But a few weeks later she found out that the broker had moved into the apartment — figuring no one would notice a lost deposit. But don't let that deposit go gently into that good night. If it's less than $5,000, you can sue in small-claims court. Sometimes the very threat of a lawsuit will bring a sketchy landlord to his senses. (Civil court goes up $25,000 — and has similarly user-friendly procedures.)
— Janet Huege and Max Gross
Posted by Max Gross on 12:26 PM