Four Tips for Subletting Your Apartment

Imagine that you’re a college student living in an off-campus apartment on a year-long lease. This lease term is convenient for your fall and spring semesters, but what do you do if you’re not planning to be anywhere near campus for the summer? You’ve got to pay that three or four months of summer rent somehow, so you might want to look for a subletter. 

It might feel risky to have a stranger live in, and pay rent for, your apartment in your absence, but just as there are basic rules for how to be a good subletter, if you follow these four tips for subletting your apartment, you’ll be more likely to have a great experience.

1. Make sure you can legally sublet your apartment

Just because you’re going away for a while and need someone to pay your rent in your absence doesn’t mean that you can legally have someone do so. Many leases explicitly ban tenants from finding subletters, so make sure to read your lease before pursuing a subletter.

If your lease bans subletters but your financial situation will be deeply imperiled without one, speak with your landlord to see whether they’ll make an exception. Make sure to confirm any agreed-upon terms in writing. Even if your lease does allow for subletters, you should get written permission from your landlord before pursuing a subletter.

2. Find a subletter

Once you know you can legally sublet your apartment, you’ll need to find a subletter. People with whom you have mutual connections may be more trustworthy, so begin your search by asking friends, family, and co-workers if they know anybody looking to sublet an apartment. Should they have no leads, you can post a detailed listing about your sublet – include the rent, approximate monthly utility costs, sublease length, etc. – on social media housing groups or classified listing websites. Be sure to interview potential subletters to establish rapport and get a feel for how trustworthy they’ll be.

3. Establish firm lines and terms of communication

Once you’ve found a subletter, you’ll need to establish not just easy methods of communication, but a schedule for how often, at minimum, you’ll communicate. Even if your subletter encounters no issues with your apartment, you should have them briefly touch base with you once or twice a week. In the event of a major maintenance emergency, make sure that your subletter immediately contacts your landlord and then you.

You should also set up a longer, more in-depth monthly check-in with your subletter. This way, both you and your subletter can discuss any issues that have popped up. Between your monthly check-ins, you should request that your subletter document their stay for both your protection.

4. If you have roommates, make sure they know

Though seemingly obvious, not all tenants who live with other people will properly introduce their subletter to their roommates or even alert them to the new person temporarily living in the apartment. Before your subletter moves in, put them in touch with your roommates, and if possible, arrange an in-person meeting. If everyone gets along and knows each other from the start, your sublet agreement will go much more smoothly.

What tips do you have for subletting your apartment? Sound off in the comments!

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