The Basics of Subletting
Imagine you’ve decided to study abroad for a semester. You’re all set to go, except for one tiny detail: you’re locked into a year-long lease for an apartment that you now won’t be living in for five months. Or maybe you’ve just landed your dream summer internship, but it requires living in a different city for 10 weeks. You don’t want to pay rent on an apartment that you won’t be living in, and you certainly don’t want to be stuck with two rental payments.
Fortunately, there is a reasonable solution: subletting.
Essentially, subletting allows another tenant to temporarily take over your apartment; according to Devon Thorsby, a writer for USNews, this means you will be “taking on the role of a landlord, while still being liable for costs to your own landlord if something goes wrong.”
Though this process may vary based on your building and based on where you live, in most cases you will be responsible for finding a new resident and ensuring his or her trustworthiness and ability to pay rent. Keep in mind that the earlier you begin, the easier the subletting process should be.
Step 1: Check with Your Landlord or Building Management
Your first step should be to check with your landlord or building management to make sure that they allow subletting. Subletting without your landlord’s knowledge or permission can get you into trouble, so it’s best to make them aware of your plans right from the start. They may also have specific rules and regulations for whom they will allow to live in the building — for instance, some buildings require background checks for any prospective residents — so before you begin looking, make sure you’re aware of what will be expected.
Step 2: Have a Discussion with Your Roommates
If you have roommates, it’s a good idea to discuss their expectations concerning your prospective subtenant — after all, this will affect their living situation as well. Focus on any concerns or preferences that they may have for their future roommate; for instance, if they are more comfortable with someone of the same gender or of a certain age group, make note of that when you begin your search.
You may also want to ask if there are any specific traits that your roommates would prefer in a subtenant to ensure as smooth of a transition as possible; keep in mind that this will be an adjustment for everyone involved. In addition to being courteous, getting feedback from your roommates will allow you to narrow down your prospective subtenants.
Step 3: Find a Subtenant
The most important trait to look for in a subtenant is trustworthiness. Given your name is still on the lease for your apartment, you remain largely responsible for the unit. Any lapses on your subtenant’s part (such as missing a rental payment or damaging the property) may have negative consequences for you.
With this in mind, the best place to start looking is within your circles of friends and acquaintances; this way you can easily find someone to vouch for your prospective subtenant’s reliability. You can also ask around in any clubs or organizations that you take part in and can utilize social media by advertising your apartment on their Facebook pages.
In addition, there are various websites where you can look for subtenants, such as Uloop, Craigslist, and Sublet. If you’re advertising online, include pictures of your apartment and information about its amenities, as well as any specific traits that you’re looking for in a subtenant.
Step 4: Meet with Your Prospective Subtenant
Before you officially commit to a subtenant, arrange a meeting with them. You can use this time to assess him or her for yourself and determine if this is someone you can trust to live in your apartment. Meeting face-to-face will give you the chance to discuss the details of your sublet agreement, such as payment and move-in and move out dates. It would be prudent to familiarize them with the rules of your building as well — you don’t want to find out at the last minute that they have a dog and your building prohibits pets. Your roommates may also want to meet with your subtenant in person so they can get to know each other and have an idea of who they will be living with.
Step 5: Sign an Agreement
Once you’ve found the perfect subtenant, you should draw up a sublet agreement to be signed by your landlord or building management, your subtenant, and yourself. Your landlord may provide this agreement, or you can find your own online.
You’ll have to establish several guidelines for this agreement with your subtenant, most importantly including payment. Keep in mind that you may not necessarily be able to receive your full rent from your subtenant; however, according to Forbes, it is safe to expect about 70-80 percent of your normal rental payment. It’s also a good idea to ask for a deposit, both to ensure your subtenant’s commitment to the agreement and to use in the case of any damage to the property.
Overall, though the subletting process may seem intimidating at first, it should definitely pay off in the end.
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