The Rules of Subletting

By Danni White on October 31, 2017

Image via Century 21 Metropolitan

So, you have recently gotten a lease but find out that you need to move or that you won’t be able to be in the place for the duration of the lease due to travel or other obligations. What do you do now? You’re pretty much stuck with the lease as no one could foresee the future to tell you not to get into the lease beforehand. Well, that’s not exactly true. There are a few things you can do and one of those most common things is subletting.

This actually happened to me recently which now makes me feel like I’m writing my own personal story in this article. But I signed a 12-month lease at some luxury apartment only because I had started a new job and needed to be closer to that job to get there on time. I signed the lease happy-go-lucky, only to find out a few months later that I would need to travel much more quickly and often than I had originally thought I would. Stuck? Yeah, for a few minutes, I panicked. “I have a new apartment. I can’t just travel. If I knew I had to do this back then, I would have never signed such a lease.”

Sure wouldn’t have signed that thing. But since I can’t foresee the future, here I was — a new lease in hand and needed a solution. I didn’t want to pay for a place that I wasn’t living in most of the time. Hence, the need to look for a person willing to sublet. A strange scenario here which I hope doesn’t happen to you: the person who chose to sublet only moved in for two months before moving out permanently to a new state. So, here I was needing to sublet for the second time in less than three months.

Image via Abodo

Many people view subletting as a long and difficult process. To be honest, it can be a real headache especially if you have so many other things going on at the same time. Typically, the shortest lease on a decent place is six months. Some other places require a 1-year lease. More often than not, someone looking for a place to stay for three months or more will turn to subletting as an option.

If you know the process and know how to navigate and get it done, you can find a good subtenant in a short space of time. Here are some rules of subletting that you need to be aware of.

1. Check with the landlord

This is the very first rule of subletting. Unless you wish to lose your deposit and pay all kinds of fees, you must check with the property manager or landlord before allowing someone else to move in. Actually, I didn’t do this the first time, but in my case, it was okay because the property manager does allow subletting. Most times, all you have to do is look at your lease agreement to see what it says.

If the terms are vague or you don’t really have the patience to read through the fine print, just go ask your landlord. Be honest with the landlord as to why you need to find another person to occupy your place. If the landlord says no, then don’t try to sneak someone in there. If the landlord says yes, then, of course, proceed with finding the right person.

2. Get to work on advertising

No one will show up to sublet your place by osmosis and many times, family and friends aren’t the ones who want to move into your place. In any case, sometimes you need to do a little advertising. Spread the word about your sublet through general and specific websites. For example, people typically post sublets and places for rent or lease on Craigslist [there may also already be people here looking for a sublet].

Additionally, Airbnb is another option, however, be aware that you can’t be too selective here as people can stay for as long or as short as they want and you probably can’t say things like “only 20-somethings” or “no boys allowed.”

Give VRBO.com and SpareRoom as well as HomeAway.com a shot as well. Then if you live in a college community, try AcademicHomes.com, or look through your local newspaper for opportunities. Facebook is also a good option. Be sure to include clear pictures of the actual place and benefits of the neighborhood. And of course, we also have you covered with sublets on Uloop!

3. Choose the right person

People aren’t always who they appear to be, so you must find out about the person you potentially want to live in your place. I know it sounds a little like spying, but check them out on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or otherwise, a simple Google search. Find out where they work, what they do when they’re not working, what their hobbies are, and so on and so forth.

Equally as important is whether the person can pay the price each month on time. Are they financially responsible? Resist the temptation to bring in the first person. You don’t want to be stuck with someone who doesn’t respect your rules and leaves you with more responsibilities instead relieving you of the one you want to be relieved of.

4. Make rent and utilities payment easy

Provide the subtenant with all the information he or she needs to submit payment to you. Set the rent price and determine whether utilities will be separate and itemized or will it all be included in one payment. Also, determine what date the rent must be due on. I chose to set one price that includes rent and the subtenant’s portion of the utilities. This, in my opinion, made it easier for her to be aware of one price only.

Also, since full payment is due on the first of each month, I set her due date for two days before the first (30th or 31st) so I can be assured rent would not be late. You can choose to let him or her pay directly to the landlord depending on your setup but you will have to determine what you are wanting to accomplish.

5. Write it all down

Yes, I know it is super tedious and probably a headache, but rules and regulations must be written down and signed for as long as the duration of the lease will be for the subtenant. The lease agreement should state the cost of rent and utilities as well as damage liability, dates of move in and move out, deposit from the subtenant, and contact information. No matter how wonderful your subtenant appears to be, everything needs to be in writing and signed by the both of you. Your landlord may be willing to assist with this process.

Subletting can be fun and an efficient process so long as you know what to do and do it right.

Danni White is a developmental psychology graduate student at Liberty University. She works in the digital publishing, media, and technology industries. After this degree, she will go on to work on a PhD in social psychology in which she hopes to do research on perception and social cognition’s impact on human behavior. She hopes to apply this research in corporate HR departments and community-based organizations. In her otherwise limited spare time, she blogs, writes and reads. She loves coffee, sports, music, cooking, meeting new people, and binge watching Netflix.

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