Five Essential Subletter Etiquette Rules

If you’re subletting from someone, you’ll be living in an apartment that’s at once yours and very much not yours. You might be a bit worried about how you can properly feel at home while respecting the original tenant’s space. With these five essential rules for subletter etiquette rules, you should have no trouble comfortably navigating your subletting experience.

1. Establish lines of communication

Just because the original tenant is away doesn’t mean they don’t want to know how their apartment is faring during your stay. You’ll thus want to set guidelines for how to contact the original tenant if needed, whether for basic questions such as where certain household items are located or for maintenance needs. 

2. Document your stay

You wouldn’t just move into an apartment without signing a lease. Similarly, you shouldn’t move into an apartment you’re subletting without signing a document detailing the duration of your stay, how much rent and other fees you’ll owe, and any other necessary terms such as maintenance procedure, guest rules, or pet guidelines. You’ll also want to make records of any written communications you have with the landlord or other roommates should issues arise.

It’s also important to make sure that you are legally subletting the apartment. You may want to request authorization from the landlord or management company before committing to the sub-lease.

3. Keep decorations to a minimum

Whether you’re subletting for a month or closer to a full year, you’ll need to remember that you’re only living there temporarily. That means you should limit the number of decorations you put up. When decorating, you should take special care not to use nails, screws, or other hangers that require you to make holes in walls, as doing so could count as property damage for which the original tenant is penalized. Instead, decorate with plants, desktop photo frames, and easily removable posters and decals.

4. Respect volume levels

If you’re moving into a quiet apartment complex, don’t have friends over for loud parties or hangouts. It doesn’t matter that you’re only staying in the apartment temporarily – you should always respect your neighbors and, if applicable, roommates. If you want to see friends, go to a nearby bar or restaurant instead. Plus, the terms of your sublease agreement might limit the number of guests you can have over, for how long, or at what times of day.

5. Ensure a monthly check-in

If you check in with the original tenant monthly, you can ensure that both your needs are being met. Whether via text, email, phone call, or another communication method, a monthly check-in allows you to ask the original tenant any pressing questions you have and update them on the condition of the apartment. This check-in also gives the original tenant a chance to ask you how things are going. With a monthly check-in and regularly open lines of communication, you can increase your chances of an enjoyable subletting experience.

What tips do you have for subletting an apartment? Share them in the comments!

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