I'm a tenant in a commercial space in NYC that is sublet friendly (lots of artists, musicians, etc.) My landlord told me subletting was okay when I first looked at the space I rented and I ended up subletting part of my space to someone who is now behind on rent and I want to evict (or at least go thru the process to get them to pay). I have a signed sublet agreement with my subtenant that states he must pay rent on time.

But in looking thru my lease (with my landlord), it states that written permission is required for subletting, which I did not get. I am fine with emailing my landlord now and asking them to confirm that I can sublet and explain I have someone in the space now. I'm 99% sure he will confirm it's okay. However, I am concerned the courts will not accept my attempts to evict for non payment of rent since I didn't get the written permission in advance. Will this be a problem? And if so, how can I remedy?

  • No one is going to predict the future, i.e. if you will win in court. Contact one of several landlord/tenant advocacy groups in NYC and ask for the correct legal procedure to deal with the verbal lease and written sublease. Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 4:07
  • Is the space being used for residential purposes either by you or by your subtenant?
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 9:12
  • No -- strictly commercial. It's a large open room we share for artistic work.
    – pfps823
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 1:42

1 Answer 1


It seems you have learned a lesson in making sure you keep your paperwork in order. That said I can't imagine a reasonable judge coming back and saying that because you lack the landlord's written permission to sublet, the subleter is now allowed to squat in the landlord's space. That would be an absurd result.

Obviously this is no guarantee as judges are not as consistent at the city levels as they are at the higher courts, but the key word is reasonable judge.

  • 2
    I believe the result would depend on whether the space is being used for a residence, since residential evictions are more difficult. NYS law also requires written permission for a sublease, but I do not understand exactly what implications that has for the present situation. I agree that it's highly unlikely that invalidity of the sublease would result in a right for the subtenant to occupy the premises. I believe the residential question affects only the procedural requirements to evict.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 16:46
  • This question relates to a commercial lease, not a residential lease.
    – pfps823
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 1:41
  • @QuickQuestion823 in that case it should be rather easier to evict the subtenant. But I wouldn't do that or take any other legal action (for example, to recover the back rent), without a landlord/tenant lawyer, who will of course be able to address your question about the effect of the lack of written permission.
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 17:57

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