When Dealing with Sublets, Get Everything in Writing

Solid communications skills are important in all areas of life — but especially so when trying to close any sort of deal that’s open to negotiation. Living in the U.S., with fixed price department stores, there aren’t a ton of learning opportunities. You can’t exactly go into Best Buy and try to bargain down that speaker system because dudes in corporate have already decided what it’s worth. Either you’ll agree — and buy it — or you won’t.

Not so when dealing with fellow apartment dwellers. Practically everything is open to negotiation and interpretation. Seems like it’s a better system than department stores. Well, until a misunderstanding takes place.

A friend recently found what she thought was the perfect sublet in the heart of Chicago. She didn’t want to be tied down too long but desperately wanted to get out of the house. The girl subletting the room was accepted into the Peace Corps and needed someone to fill the room through April 30 and offered the apartment as furnished.

Then…she tried to sell my friend her bed and when my friend said no — sold it to someone else. Which means it wasn’t going to be furnished after all. Huh? Furnished = Bed to 98% of people. Unfortunately for my pal, not to this chick. So, she then had a weird feeling about the girl, wondered what ELSE she might not have understood and needed to decide whether the apartment was worth buying a bed for. Basically, a headache and a half.

The lesson she learned was twofold. 1) Clarify conditions so that even a kindergartner can understand the terms and 2) Get everything in writing so you can refer back to it at a later date.

It’s not the end of the world for my friend; she’ll find another great sublet. But, it was a tough let-down not to mention a waste of time.

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Author My First Apartment

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I've lived in apartments in 6 cities (including 2 foreign countries). Does that make me an expert? As of now, my ceiling isn't leaking and I don't have rodents (knock on wood) -- so I'm going to say yes . . . but ask me again tomorrow:) These days, I'm enjoying life Chicago style, but my years in Brooklyn are never far from my mind. P.S. By day I work at Cars.com, but these opinions are totally, 100% my own.

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