I’ve been living in various rental houses and apartments for almost 10 years, and almost every single one of them has had multiple people in and out of the apartment, subletting for just a few months (or even weeks) at a time. Most of the experiences have been good, but there were the occasional few that resulted in lost money and an infuriated landlord. To avoid having any of that happen to you, follow these four subletting rules.
Rule #1: Be picky.
You’re not looking for new curtains, a computer desk or the perfect set of end tables. You’re looking for the person who is going to be living in your home in your space, taking care of your stuff. When it comes to finding someone to sublease your apartment, don’t settle on the first person who walks in the door. Schedule a few different meetings with people to determine who will be the best (and most responsible) fit. Don’t be afraid to ask for personal information in order to do complete background and credit checks. You want to make sure you’re getting someone who has a steady job and will be able to pay rent on time.
Rule #2: Watch out for the fine print on your lease.
You have to make sure it’s legal — on both ends. Whether you’re the original tenant looking to have someone temporarily take over your apartment, or you’re the new person taking over for the existing tenant, read the fine print on your lease and talk to your landlord to ensure you’re not breaking any city codes. If you miss a key clause, you may end up losing your apartment.
Keep in mind that all states are different when it comes to subletting rules. Under New York State law, for example, “a landlord cannot unreasonably refuse a request to sublet your apartment,” according to housingnyc.com. That basically means your landlord can say no as long as her reason is justified.
Rule #3: Get it in writing.
Sign a written agreement with the new tenant stating all of the terms you agreed on — how you’re handling the security deposit, amount and method of monthly rent payment for the new tenant, and length of the person’s stay. All state laws are different, but generally speaking, if your name is on the lease, and the person you are subletting to doesn’t pay up, your landlord could hold you responsible for the costs. You don’t want to get yourself into a situation where you lose money, or even worse — get evicted. (While we are talking about losing money, here are some other financial pitfalls to avoid.)
Rule #4: Document the condition of the apartment pre-sublet.
Take pictures of every room and make sure your landlord knows exactly how the apartment looked when you left it. If the new tenant causes any damage to the apartment and you are held responsible, you’ll have proof that you left the place in good condition.
Our guest blogger Sarah Kaufman is the editor-in-chief of The Manilla Folder at Manilla.com, the leading, free and secure service that helps you simplify and organize your daily life. Using just one password, Manilla lets you manage your finances, utilities, daily deals, travel and rewards programs, Netflix and magazine subscriptions, and more — all through Manilla.com or the top-rated iOS and mobile apps. Sarah is also a regular contributor to Yahoo! Finance, Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day, Redbook, The Motley Fool, and other major sites. For more budgeting tips and great ways to save, visit The Manilla Folder.