What is Assignment of Lease and How It is Different from Subletting

The assignment of lease (and rent) is a foggy topic that is often confused with subletting. Let's clear the air once and all right now. Learn the differences between a lease assignment and sublease so you can make the right choice.

What is Assignment of Lease? - The Important Basics

Let's begin by introducing the 3 players in a lease assignment - The landlord, the original tenant (assignor) and the new tenant (assignee).

The original tenant has an unexpired lease agreement with the landlord and he wants out. Since the original tenant can't just break the agreement and walk off, what he does is to get a new tenant to swap places... and take over all his rights and obligations for the remainder of the lease period.

So if the original tenant signs a 1 year commercial lease and the business goes bust after 8 months, the new tenant will be assigned a 4-month commercial lease (with the same terms and conditions as the original agreement).

Now here's the big catch: Even though the original tenant has handed over all his duties and obligations to the new tenant, he is not off the hook... unless the landlord agrees to release him from all liabilities. If the new tenant stirs up trouble, our dear original tenant will find himself in hot soup as well.

Of course, whether the original tenant is allowed to pull this assignment trick out of his hat is a whole new matter. Knowing for sure is actually simpler than most people think:

First, examine your local landlord tenant laws for any lease assignment rules. Most of the time, landlords are given the right to allow or disallow assignments but once in a while, the local law let tenants have the final say instead. If there's no mention of lease assignments in your law text, then your rental lease agreement shall dictate the terms.

Differences Between Lease Assignment and Subletting

When it comes to subletting vs assignment of lease, there's often a massive mix-up. Sometimes even real estate professional get it wrong by assuming them to be one and same thing. However if you dig deeper, you will find that the differences are not just numerous, but important as well.

Let's begin by dragging the landlord into the picture. An assignment of lease launches the new tenant into a direct relationship with the landlord - The landlord collects rent straight from the new tenant and deals with the new tenant directly on all lease issues. So in this case, the original tenant gets to take back seat and doesn't have to manage the new tenant actively.

On the other hand, there's no direct relationship between the landlord and new tenant (subtenant) in a sublease. Instead the original tenant plays mother goose and is responsible for collecting rent from the subtenant and making sure that he's following the lease rules. When you compare the two, a sublease is a lot more hands-on for the original tenant.

No matter which path you take, you will still want a good new tenant who pays the rent on time and follows the lease rules to the agreement. For the golden rules on screening tenants and running credit checks, Click here for our guide to running tenant credit checks.

When you have a lease assignment, the terms and conditions of the lease remains largely unchanged - It's almost like taking the original lease agreement and swapping the tenant's name with another.

With a sublease, there's more breathing space - The original tenant can decide how much rent to charge, how long the subtenant is going to stay or even collect security deposit... as long as it stays within the boundaries drawn by the original lease agreement between the landlord and original tenant.

Should You Choose Assignment of Lease or Sublease?

You are the landlord - A lease assignment is recommended in most cases. You will have more control over your new tenant (instead of leaving matters in the original tenant's hands and hoping that he would do a good job)... plus you still have the original tenant to cover your back in case anything goes wrong.

You are the Original Tenant - Now this is a tricky one. If you want to someone to take over the entire lease and property for its remaining duration (e.g. your business goes belly-up and you no longer need the office), then help yourself to a lease assignment.

If the landlord's consent is required for assignment (and he doesn't give the nod), you can always try offering him a lease assignment fee as a deal sweetener.

However, if you are looking for someone to share the place (and rent)... or perhaps you need someone to cover the rent while you are overseas for a few short months, then a sublease would be ideal.

You are the New Tenant - An assignment of lease works better for you most of the time. You won't be at the mercy of the original tenant (for example if he screws up and the landlord terminates the original lease agreement, your sublease might also go up in flames).

But if you only want to rent part of the property... or don't want to tie yourself down for the remaining lease duration, then you are better off sticking to a sublease.

Now that we have covered the topic of assignment vs sublease, go ahead and take your pick - Click here for an assignment of lease form or Click here for a sublet agreement instead.

Landlord Tenant Law