Subletting is a great way to earn extra money, or at least avoid paying rent on an empty room when you’re out of town. However, when you have roommates, inviting a stranger or even an acquaintance to temporarily live in your home can be uncomfortably unfamiliar with everyone else who agreed to live with you on the lease.
If you want to sublet while you’re away on winter travels, be sure to check with your roommates on what they feel comfortable with. Should the subletter be the same sex and age range as the roommates? Would you be okay with someone who may be travelling internationally and may not speak the best English? Can your room be sublet to a couple or just a single traveler? If all your roommates are away at the same time, is it okay to have a subletter?
The best experiences I’ve had with subletters are from those who have already lived in my city and are transitioning between homes and need somewhere to stay. They’re independent, reliable, and not tourists, which puts less of a burden on your roommates to give them maps and restaurant recommendations when they’d rather just be relaxing at home.
The best way to find a subletter is word of mouth! Tell your roommates to ask their friends and friends of friends, perhaps via Facebook or other mailing lists they’re apart of, if they’d like to sublet your room during the specific period of time. This will help make having a stranger in your home less awkward; especially if it’s someone at least one of your roommates already knows.
The most common fear about subletters is damage. You don’t want to be responsible for a subletter stealing or damaging your or your roommate’s belongings. Of course, there’s no way to ensure this won’t happen, but choosing a trustworthy subletter is the first step. Then, you may want to have him or her leave a security deposit with one of your roommates, for any damage they may cause. This could be to cover a cleaning fee if they make a mess or to replace a dish they may break. Some may think $50 is fair, while others may request hundreds.
Make a written contract between you, your subletter, and your roommates. It may not be legally binding, nor is subletting necessarily smiled upon in your building, but having the rules in writing help to clarify anything. Include the dates and hours of the sublet, where the keys will be left and dropped off, and any house rules that need be obeyed (Can they use your shampoo? Are they responsible on your cleaning day?). Include what will happen if the rules are broken (must leave without money back, security deposit will be kept, etc.) and don’t be afraid to be harsh, this is your living space!
Most importantly, be in contact with both your subletter and your roommates while you’re away. Make sure that everything is going smoothly, that your roommates are getting along with the new temporary inhabitant, and that if there’s anything that needs to be taken care of or straightened out, you can help. As with any roommate situation, respect is key, and inviting a respectful, pleasant, and responsible individual into your home shouldn’t have any bad consequences!
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanfranannie/4074707233/sizes/l/