November, 2002 




Source: New York Landlord's Lawbook: By Attorney Mary Ann Hallenborg: Edited by Marcia Stewart & Janet Portman 


Someone who has signed a lease or a rental agreement entitling that person to exclusive possession of a rental unit, or who has gained the status of a tenant because the landlord has accepted his presence on the property or has accepted rent from him/her. A tenant has a legal relationship with the landlord that creates various rights and responsibilities for both parties. 


Two or more tenants who rent the same rental unit under the same lease or rental agreement. (Sometimes co-tenants sign at the same time, or a co-tenant may be added later to an existing lease.) As far as the landlord is concerned, each tenant is 100% responsible for carrying out the agreement (in legal jargon, "jointly and severally liable"), including paying all the rent. When one co-tenant leaves, the remaining co-tenants remain fully responsible for carrying out the agreement. 


Someone who rents the rental unit from a tenant under an agreement called a sublease. Most leases and rental agreements require the landlord's consent to a subtenant. A subtenant has the right to occupy the rental unit for the length of the sublease, whether or not the tenant continues to live in the rental unit. However, the tenant remains 100% responsible for all tenant obligations, including paying all the rent to the landlord. When the subtenant leaves, the tenant is still bound to his/her lease with the landlord. 


An immediate family member or unrelated occupant invited by the tenant to live permanently in the rental unit with the tenant. A roommate does not sign a lease and is not a tenant. While a roommate may share expenses with the tenant, there is no obligation to pay rent to the landlord. As far as the landlord is concerned, the tenant remains 100% responsible for the rent. A roommate may leave and any time without any responsibility to the landlord. However, a roommate has no right to remain in the rental unit after the tenant moves out. 


The person to whom a tenant transfers and assigns all of his/her rights of tenancy. After a lease assignment, the old tenant becomes the "assignor." Unlike a subtenant, an assignee rents directly from the landlord.


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This web page was updated on 11/04/2002