As a subtenant who may be renting for a short period of time, it is important to know your rights. First, you must make sure the original landlord is allowing the tenant to sublease to you. If a tenant rents to you when a lease or rental agreement prohibits it, the landlord can evict both the tenant and you, the subtenant, even if you did not know that subtenancy was prohibited. Ask to see a copy of the original lease to make sure you are legally able to sublease. In most situations, you will not sign a lease with the original landlord, instead you will deal directly with the original tenant. However, the original landlord may require you, the subtenant, to sign a separate rental agreement giving you all the rights and responsibilities of a tenant.
Master Tenants and Subtenants
A tenant may choose to rent out part of a unit to another tenant if the lease allows. This is called an apartment share. The master tenant is the person who originally moved into the unit, signed an agreement with the landlord, and is now renting part of the unit to another tenant, called a subtenant. The subtenant is the person who pays rent to the master tenant and has no relationship with the landlord. Co-tenants, or simply roommates, are equal tenants who are both on a rental agreement with the landlord.
Subtenants Rights with a Landlord
If a landlord gains 'actual knowledge' (e.g. accepting a rent check, getting a letter, doing a credit check, etc.) of a subtenant and does nothing about it for 60 days, the subtenant is treated as a co-tenant for the purposes of eviction and rent increases, and has the same rights as a normal tenant. If the landlord gives notice to the subtenant within 60 days or 'actual knowledge' that s/he recognizes the subtenant merely as an occupant and not a tenant, the subtenant remains a subtenant for the purposes of eviction and rent control. This means that when a master tenant is evicted or moved out, the landlord can increase the price of the unit to a fair market value because rent control rules do not apply. The subtenant will have to pay this higher price if s/he wants to remain in the unit.