As new grads start flooding to the housing market, subletting a roommate share is the time-tested way of scoring an apartment when your budget is not high enough for a place of your own. Whether you are looking for a short term sublet of a few weeks while you hunt for a permanent place or a more ongoing arrangement, there are some things you must ask before you hand over your money. Ideally, you will be able to ask these questions when you meet all your potential roommates in person, but if you have to sign on long distance, make sure you at least meet by Skype or Face Time and get a virtual tour of the apartment and your room.
12 questions every subletter needs to ask:
- When can I move in? When do I have to be out?
- How much is the rent and when is it due?
- Is there a security deposit? How will it be held? By whom?
- Are utilities included in rent or paid separately and how much?
- How are the payments made? If by check, to whom? By Venmo or other app?
- Will the room be furnished? How? (Ask for photos.)
- Will the closets be empty?
- Is the room lockable or is there an open doors policy? Can other roommates go into my room when I’m out?
- What are the house rules about smoking or drug use?
- What are the housekeeping rules? Is there a chore wheel or assigned tasks?
- Is there a schedule for cooking? How about showering?
- What is the guest policy?
Warning about scams:
Subletting market is prime territory for all kinds of scammers. People advertise places that are not theirs to sublet, or may not even exist. Always check the address to make sure it is legit and use Google Maps and Google Earth to actually see the building to make sure it’s a residential building and not a warehouse. Check this post for some telltale signs that you are about to get scammed, and read here how our blogger Alex almost fell for a scam. You can never be too careful before you hand a virtual stranger your money!
Please share your best anti-scammer tips in the comments or your tales of woe if you became a victim.