Subletting

Subletting a room or apartment is allowed during winter and summer breaks or under other specific circumstances with school or departmental approval. All sublets must be for a minimum of 30 days in accordance with NY State law and require prior approval by Columbia Residential. Residents may sublet to Columbia affiliates only.

NOTE: Residents in International House (500 Riverside Drive) and New Residence Hall at Teachers College (517 West 121st Street) are not eligible to sublet. 

Any resident of Columbia Residential who is found to be subleasing a University apartment without receiving prior approval from Columbia Residential via the Housing Portal, may be fined up to $7500 and reported to Student Conduct and Community Standards (students) or Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (faculty, staff & postdocs). 

Residents must submit a sublet application for approval from the housing office before they ("Prime Tenant") allow anyone ("Subtenant") to occupy the apartment while the Prime Tenant is away. Failure to do so violates the occupancy agreement/lease and is grounds for terminating housing privileges. Please allow three business days for application processing. 

Columbia is not a party to the agreement with the Subtenant and does not mediate disputes; the sublet agreement is subordinate to the terms of the occupancy agreement/lease with Columbia, a copy of which the Prime Tenant must provide to the Subtenant. 

Sublet Guidelines

  • Rent account: paid-in-full 
  • Occupancy agreement/lease: active signed occupancy agreement/lease on file with housing office 
  • Current resident: must live in housing for at least one semester prior to subletting. May not sublet during the first semester in housing.
  • Sublet dates: approval of sublet dates beyond the occupancy agreement/lease expiration date is subject to receipt of a signed extension 
  • Outside of New York City: residents may apply to sublet only if they will be outside of the New York Metropolitan area for the period requested 
  • Occupancy: resident must return to apartment for a minimum of one semester following sublet 
  • Occupancy: students in multiple occupancy units (apartment shares or dorms) may sublet to only one individual 
  • Occupancy: single occupancy apartments must be sublet in their entirety (no rooms for rent) 
  • Rental rates: subtenant rent must not exceed the Columbia base rent and Columbia Ethernet charge (if applicable) 
  • Permissible charges to subtenant: optional fees for furniture usage (not to exceed 10 percent of the Columbia base rent) and for utility reimbursement (electricity, gas, cable and internet) 
  • Must maintain full-time affiliation during sublet term. Cannot apply to be a subtenant during term of active Columbia occupancy agreement/lease. Student residents cannot be on a leave of absence or have withdrawn from the University. 
  • Minimum age: 18 years  
  • Must be in good standing with the University (financial and conduct) 
  • If a current Columbia tenant, sublet cannot start until after resident vacates Columbia housing. 
  • Photo ID: copy of photo ID for self and any additional occupants 
  • Gender: must be the same gender as tenant if a single gender apartment 
  • No pets: subtenant may not have pets in Columbia Residential units 
  • Vacation: summer or winter break only 
  • Approved Leave: during the academic year, students may sublet with Housing Liaison (PDF) approval for academic fieldwork or research. Faculty and postdocs may sublet with department chair/dean/director approval. Remote learning is not an approved reason for sublet.
  • Sublet Term: minimum of 30 days 
  • Window Guards: if any occupants are 10 years old or younger, landlord must be notified 
  • Building Access: superintendents are provided a list of approved subtenants which should allow the subtenant to move-in without issues. Contact the building's superintendent with further questions. 
  • Keys: key exchange is to be arranged by Prime Tenant to Subtenant. 
  • Payment: Prime Tenant will continue to be billed directly for rent. Subtenant rent payment is to be arranged by Subtenant to Prime Tenant.   

Frequently Asked Questions

First, you’ll need to find your own subtenant. You can advertise on the OCHA Housing Registry to find a subtenant. You can apply online on the Housing Portal once you’ve selected a subtenant. Read the Sublet Guidelines above for more detailed information about submitting the sublet for approval once you select a subtenant.

Updated May 8, 2020: Yes, residents may appy to sublet to anyone, regardless of the subtenant's affiliation to Columbia.

Please note, the CU-Managed Sublets tab in the OCHA Housing Registry is open only to Columbia affiliates to search. Remember to screen people carefully and read the Sublet Guidelines above for more detailed information.

Subtenants in Columbia housing are bound by the same rules and regulations that apply to residents. Residents should refer their subtenants to Resident Information & Policies and share a copy of their housing agreement with their subtenant.

Subtenants are also expected to follow University, city, state and CDC-recommended guidelines while living in Columbia housing. For more information about the University's response to COVID-19, please review the COVID-19 Resource Guide for the Columbia Community.

No, if someone is staying in your apartment when you’re not there, they are considered a subtenant (not a Guest), and a sublet application must be submitted for approval by Columbia Residential. Even if it’s a family member and even if they’re not paying rent, without Columbia Residential approval, it’s a violation of your housing agreement.

You may charge your subtenant up to 10% more than your rent as an optional furniture rental fee.

Yes, we strongly suggest that you take a security deposit from your subtenant for your protection, in case of damage, unpaid utilities, cleaning, etc. Columbia is not involved with your subtenant’s deposit. The amount of the security deposit you should take can range from a few hundred dollars to one month’s rent. Be prepared to refund the deposit at the end of the sublet.

Your subtenant pays you directly and you continue to pay your rent to the University. You are the tenant-of-record and the rent bills will remain in your name, even when you are subletting.

No, it’s not. We strongly suggest that you make an additional written agreement between you and your subtenant to clarify payment of utilities, move in/move out instructions, furniture included, etc. Include anything you discuss verbally.

Please allow three business days for the application to be processed and approved. You will receive an automated email when the sublet has been approved, which you can forward to your subtenant.

When your sublet is approved you will receive an auto-email confirming the approval, which you can forward to your subtenant, if necessary. The super will have a list of approved sublets, so your subtenant should be able to just move in during business hours (8 a.m. – 4 p.m. from Monday to Friday). You are responsible for getting your keys to your subtenant as Columbia employees may not be involved.

Subtenants should move in during building hours when the super is on duty, which is from 8 am to 4 pm from Monday to Friday. Read the Sublet Guidelines above for more detailed information.

Yes, you can submit a sublet application in advance of signing your housing renewal. Enter the sublet information from the Sublet tab in your Housing Portal. Sublets that start on or before May 31 (the end date for most student housing agreements) will appear on the “Sublet Start/End Date” line and can be approved right away. Sublet dates that run past May 31 will drop down to the “Proposed Start/End Date” line and will be approved once you sign your housing renewal.