Subletting | Current Affiliates

These guidelines outline requirements for subletting for current affiliates living in Columbia Residential. For subletting guidelines for retired faculty and staff (retirees) Subletting | Retirees.

Current students, faculty, staff and postdocs living in Columbia Residential may sublet their room or apartment 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. 

NOTE: Residents in 455 Central Park West, Hastings Hall at Union Theological Seminary (3041 Broadway), Monarch Heights (415 West 120th Street), and New Residence Hall at Teachers College (517 West 121st Street) are not eligible to sublet. 

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. 

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 per NYC Illegal sublet laws, and reported to Student Conduct and Community Standards (students) or Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (faculty, staff & postdocs). 

Sublet Guidelines

  • Rent account: paid-in-full 
  • Housing Agreement: active signed housing agreement must be on file with Columbia Residential 
  • 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 housing agreement expiration date is subject to receipt of a signed extension 
  • Duration: the minimum time to sublet is 30 days, and the maximum time is 365 consecutive days (i.e., 1 full year). Residents will not be approved to sublet for longer than one year and would instead be encouraged to move out and reapply for housing when they return.
  • 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 30 days following sublet 
    • Students in multiple occupancy units (apartment shares or dorms) may sublet to only one individual 
    • 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) 
  • Affiliation: 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  
  • Good Standing: Subtenants who are affiliated with the University must remain in good standing (financial and conduct) to sublet.
  • Gender: if apartment is single gender, subtenant must be the same gender as resident.
  • No pets: Subtenant may not have pets in Columbia Residential units.
  • Personal Leave: summer or winter break only
    • Summer: May 1 - Aug 31
    • Winter: Dec 1 - Jan 31
  • Professional Leave: during the academic year, approved residents may sublet while on academic exchange, ETD, fieldwork, research, and sabbatical.
    • Professional leave sublets are allowed for up to one year.
    • Students may sublet with approval from the Housing Liaison.
    • Faculty and postdocs may sublet with department chair/dean/director approval.
  • Sublet Term: minimum of 30 days 
  • Window Guards: if any occupants are 10 years old or younger, landlord must be notified 
  • Keys and Building Access: Prime Tenant must arrange to give keys/access to subtenant. Staff are not permitted to give keys or provide access to the 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 Off-Campus Housing Marketplace 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.

Yes, residents may apply to sublet to anyone, regardless of the subtenant's affiliation to Columbia.

Please note, the CU-Managed Sublets tab in the Off-Campus Housing Marketplace 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.

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 to allow them to stay in your apartment.

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 up to three (3) business days for processing and information about next steps. If your application requires liaison approval, please allow up to five (5) business days for processing. You will receive an automated email when the sublet has been approved, which you can forward to your subtenant.

After your eligibility to sublet has been confirmed, the housing agreement will be sent via DocuSign, first to the subtenant, then to the leaseholder for signatures. Once complete, both parties will receive a signed copy of the agreement and an automated email verifying that the sublet has been approved.

When your sublet is approved you will receive an auto-email confirming the approval, which you can forward to your subtenant, if necessary. You are responsible for getting your keys to your subtenant as Columbia employees cannot give keys or provide access to your subtenant. Once you have exchanged keys with your subtenant, they can move in.

Small items can be moved in at any time, but large items should only be moved during business hours (8 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Monday to Friday, excluding holidays). 

That depends on the types of items being moved.  

  • Small items can be moved in at any time (for example, luggage, small boxes, etc.) 

  • Large items should only be moved in during normal business hours (Monday-Friday between 9AM and 4PM, excluding holidays). 

If a subtenant is using professional movers or having large items delivered, they must do so during business hours and submit a Certificate of Insurance (COI) at least 48 hours before the scheduled move-in. 

Yes, you can submit a sublet application in advance of signing your housing renewal. Enter the sublet information from the Sublet tab in the 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.

If there is a maintenance issue in the apartment while your approved subtenant is staying there, they can submit a service request by calling the Facilities Service Center at (212) 854-2222. Please note, requests must be made by an approved subtenant, and superintendents are provided a list of approved subtenants.