Any way around my coop's "no sublet" rule?
February 17, 2008 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I own a coop apartment in New Jersey. They don't allow any subletting at all. Is there any way to get around that? Just doing it and hoping I get away with it isn't an option because I have nosy neighbors who would probably rat me out.
posted by SampleSize to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Check New Jersey housing laws. Are they allowed to forbid subletting? I had a landlady try that on me (in Toronto) and her refusal let me simply break the lease lawfully, on one month's notice.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 1:29 PM on February 17, 2008

I doubt it because with a coop you have an artificially low rent subsidized by the strength of the entire coop. It is not fair for you to personally benefit (in the coop's eyes) from that. I know someone in California who tried that in a coop and they forced her to sell the unit due to the breach of terms. It kind of sucks if you want to go away for a while and not have to foot the entire bill. You might try outlining your plans and time frame and presenting it to the coop board for approval. They might be agreeable if they are aware in advance.
posted by 45moore45 at 1:42 PM on February 17, 2008

Response by poster: Just want to clarify: I'm not renting, I own the coop apartment (well, the shares anyway).
posted by SampleSize at 2:01 PM on February 17, 2008

a) Yeah, see what the board says.
b) If it's legally a co-op and and not legally a condominium, if the board doesn't approve you might be screwed. The legal structure of a co-op is sort of like an employee owned company. You don't own property, you own a portion of a company that happens to rent you your house. The board can and must do what's best for the corporation. Not you.

Good luck!
posted by gjc at 2:06 PM on February 17, 2008

If you're going to meet with the board I think being very specific will be helpful. They'll need a compelling reason for letting you sublet when you're aware you're not allowed to. A time frame probably is very important as well.

Something easy might be: "My band is going on a European tour until August and my buddy happens to be going through a divorce and is looking for a short term place to live while he gets everything sorted, property divided up, finds a new place to live, etc."

Or: "I'm going to grad school/peace corp for two years in wherever. I really like the apartment and area and don't want to leave permanently but cannot afford the mortgage when I'm away."

They'll also probably want a concrete plan for what would happen in the event that you don't return when you think you will.

Basically, they've decided that the downsides to subletting are major and they'll probably feel that if they make an exception for you it opens the door to big problems. So you'll have to really work to convince them that your situation is exceptional and that it would be a net positive for the co-op for you to sublet.

I wouldn't hold your breath, though.
posted by 6550 at 2:43 PM on February 17, 2008

Do your legal footwork, of course, but don't just defy the rules. The power that co-op boards have to discipline violators is not something with which you want to mess. There's a reason why no one makes co-ops any more unless they're trying to game some government system (zoning, rent control, property tax, etc.)
posted by MattD at 5:24 PM on February 17, 2008

If there are no prohibitions against long-term guests, simply have a "house sitter" take care of your apartment, and the keep the arrangement quiet. The best answer to nosy neighbors would then be that, by having a house sitter while you are away on an extended assignment/vacation/etc, you insure your apartment's security and safety and those of your neighbors as well by not having a vacant-appearing apartment. You'd then want to screen prospective subletters a bit more thoroughly and make sure they are clear why you have to have this arrangement in place.
posted by kuppajava at 7:14 PM on February 17, 2008

Why does your co-op not allow subletting? Is it for legal reasons and set down in the proprietary lease, or is it in the house rules? My co-op (in NYC) was partially subsidized by the city when built. One condition of the subsidy is no subletting (it is an effort to fill a neighborhood with home owners). Our board vigorously enforces the no-sublet rule so the co-op doesn't face severe financial penalties. Were someone to sublet they would face the forfeiture of their shares and find themselves out of an apartment in a hurry.

That said, if there isn't a legal restriction the board may be open to hear your case. I'd second 6550 and MattD's suggestions. You need to be as above-board and transparent as possible to the board. They've heard every situation ever, and you'll need to convince them you can be trusted.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:19 PM on February 17, 2008

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