You are tied into a one-year lease when an internship is offered to you in another city. This requires you to live several hours away for 3 months. Getting out of your lease is not possible, and you cannot afford to pay rent on two residents for 3 months.
In a situation like this, subletting your apartment can be the answer. When you sublet, you are renting your apartment to another person, while assuming all the legal and financial responsibilities of that person. You are still required to pay your landlord on time and you are responsible for the care of the property while your renter inhabits it.
Let us explain some ins and outs of subletting that you may not be aware of.
You probably need your landlord’s permission.
You do not own this property and you are under a legal obligation to abide by the terms of your lease. Even if your lease does not cover the topic of subleasing the apartment after you have leased it, you still have an obligation to ensure that the property is being rented to a responsible person.
Trying to sublet your apartment without your landlord’s knowledge is not a wise move. Smart landlords use high-tech systems like Sublet Alert, which lets them know when anyone is trying to sublet their property. If it turns out that you are doing so without the right or authority to do so, you can be evicted. Coming back to a messy legal situation and no place to live will probably dampen the thrill of the internship that meant so much to you.
2. You retain the financial obligations
The obligation of paying the rent on your apartment, on a specific day of the month, is yours. It does not matter if you are even in the country. It is due on a particular day, from your hand to the property manager’s hand. If your tenant does not pay you, that does not become your landlord’s problem. They rented to you and you are responsible.
You will probably require a deposit from the tenant which will protect you in the event of property damage. However, that means you are legally responsible to use the money correctly. If the renter fulfills his obligations to you, that deposit must be readily available.
3. You should require a lease from your subletter
Your landlord has given you written permission, and you have found someone who wants to sublet your apartment. What now? The smart lessor (that is you, at this point) does a complete background check on the renter. He checks references and he does his best to ensure the renter is a responsible and trustworthy person.
That is all well and good, but you still have a legal responsibility. If the subletter chooses those 3-months to go crazy with the property, the owner will go after you for compensation. If you do not have a legal contract with the renter, it will be difficult (if not impossible) to go after him for repayment for damages. It is very important that you have a valid and signed lease with your renter. (You can find many sublease templates online, like this one from Rocket Lawyer.)
Things that should be spelled out in your sublet lease:
- The dates that the rent is due and any late fees that occur and when. (Remember, late or missed payments affect your credit score, not theirs.)
- Should the renter pay rent to you (and you pay the landlord) or pay the landlord direct?
- The amount and terms of recovery of the deposit.
- Who is responsible for the electric bill and other utilities while the tenant is living in your apartment and how they are to be paid.
- What constitutes damages to the property and how they will be reported.
- The terms of the agreement with the inclusion/exclusion of pets.
Subletting your apartment can be a wise choice, but you must do your due diligence to make sure everything is handled properly, legally, and in accordance with your original lease. If you take the steps to protect yourself and to protect the property owner, everything should work out well for all involved, and the apartment should be ready to welcome you back when you return.
Our contributor, Wendy Dessler, helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing.