People from all different backgrounds and walks of life move to NYC, whether it’s to continue their education, relocate for a job, or just make a fresh start in an exciting city. For those new to NYC, there’s one primary question that comes up – should I rent or sublet?

What Are You Looking For? Rental Vs. Sublet

What exactly constitutes a rental versus a sublet? A rental is when a tenant signs a contract with the landlord of a given property that states the rental period, the amount of rent owed, the due dates for each payment, rules and restrictions, as well as penalties for violating any of these terms.

Subletting is when a rental property is further rented out by a current tenant. Although a subcontract may be drawn up, the original rental contract does not apply to a subtenant, as their name is not on it. 




As a renter, your name is on the lease. The lease is a comprehensive contract that explains the terms of the agreement between you and your landlord. This is beneficial if there happen to be any legal disputes, maintenance requests, or any other contract discrepancies.

Renting can also be easier in case of maintenance issues or repairs, because the tenant will be able to deal with the landlord directly. Since there is no middle man, these issues can usually be resolved much more quickly and efficiently.


As a subtenant, you cannot legally be held responsible for damages unless there is a subcontract drawn up. However, many primary tenants will not go through the trouble of drafting a subcontract if the sublease is for a very limited amount of time.

Another advantage is that many subleases are for significantly shorter periods. This can benefit someone who is looking for a temporary place to stay, rather than a long-term residence.


As a renter, leases are often only offered in long-term periods, usually 12 months or more is typical. This may be construed as a disadvantage if the tenant is hesitant about committing to an apartment for an entire year or not sure what their future circumstances might be.


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As a subtenant, the primary tenant may draw up a contract with very strict terms to ensure that their contract will not be affected by damages, lack of payment, etc.

Another aspect of subletting that may be extremely frustrating is when maintenance problems arise the subtenant must go through the primary tenant, who then goes to the landlord. This whole process can take a very long time, especially if the primary tenant or landlord is not willing to cooperate.

So… What Should You Do?


Ultimately, the decision should be made on a situational basis and has to be the right decision for you.

The main disadvantages of renting are the commitment and formality of the whole process. Conversely, the main disadvantages of subletting are the lack of commitment and the informal, sometimes haphazard processes that go along with that. It’s about what’s best for you.

As a guide, seasonal internships or moves motivated by finding a fresh perspective might sway towards sublets. For the majority of other situations, if you can commit to a 12-month lease, renting will be more affordable and provide you with more security.