In today’s affordable housing market, many Twin Cities duplex owners are getting THAT call from tenants.
You know the one. It starts with, “I bought a house and am moving out”.
Somehow, those tenants often forget they signed a lease, which may still have time left to run.
At that point, the landlord should remind the residents they are legally obligated to pay the rent on the balance of their lease.
In all likelihood, this won’t have any impact.
The tenants leave, and the only option the duplex owner has is to pursue legal recourse, which tends to cost money.
However, what would happen if during the telephone conversation, the landlord suggested the tenants might remedy the situation by subletting or assigning the apartment.
What’s a sublet? Well, it’s a transfer of rights to the unit for a limited period of time. During that stretch, the original tenant is still responsible for the lease, rent payments, and may reserve the right to return.
How does that differ from assignment? In assigning the lease, the tenant turns over the responsibilities of the lease to the new resident, and absolves herself from any responsibility for or interest in the unit.
How does the landlord protect herself against the risks of an unknown tenant?
If you’re using the Minnesota Multi Housing Association lease, there is a section on subletting, where it states the tenant may not rent out the unit to someone else without the landlord’s written permission.
Of course, permission could be contingent on a credit and criminal background check, just as it is for any other tenant.
What’s more, the original tenant is still on the hook for the balance of the rent payments if the subletter fails to perform.
An assignment would remove this responsibility altogether, but it’s an arrangement most Minnesota tenants are unfamiliar with.
Should it occur, however, the landlord would not have to seek out a new tenant, as the previous occupant would have done this work. Here again, permission would be contingent upon whatever stopgaps the landlord felt were appropriate to find a credit worthy resident.