Subletting and Liability: What to Know

By Kaitlin Hurtado on June 16, 2023

This article is brought to you by GradGuard. We protect college students and their families from the financial risks of college life, like providing a refund for tuition or replacing a stolen backpack when your school may not. When the unexpected happens, GradGuard’s tuition insurance and renters insurance can help you get back on track.

Anyone’s life circumstances can change at the drop of a hat, any given life change can greatly impact one’s living situation. For some renters, they may find themselves needing to relocate in the middle of the lease, or for many college students, they will spend months back home during summer months or when studying abroad. Rather than letting your apartment sit vacant while you are still paying rent, you may be considering subletting your apartment while you are away to recover any potential financial loss.

However, it is important to understand what subletting entails and your liability as a tenant on the lease. Keep reading for what to know about subletting and liability.

Photo: Pexels

Understanding subletting

Subletting is when a tenant rents out the apartment or home they are renting from a landlord. For college students, this is most commonly practiced when students spend a semester abroad but are still on a lease, or, if they opt to go back home during the summer while they still are on a lease.

Subletting allows renters to keep a rental, but minimize their financial loss as a subtenant can pay all or at least partial amounts of their rent. This can come in handy when a student is subleasing in the middle of their active lease. For example, they may have a July to June lease and are planning to study abroad from August to December.

Subletting while they are abroad allows them to get some money back in rent, all while eliminating the need to cancel their lease and go through the process of finding alternate housing before and after they study abroad.

Check with your landlord and lease agreement

First and foremost, remember that you are living in a rental property and have a rental agreement to abide by. Prior to subletting, make sure that your landlord and/or lease agreement allows subletting. Many properties will forbid the practice for the risk it can pose to rental properties.

If you proceed to sublet your rental property without your landlord’s explicit permission and in turn, violate your lease agreement, you and your subtenant can be in danger of eviction. This can also greatly impact liability. If only your name is on the lease, you are solely reliable for any property damages that occur while subletting. Even if you trust your subtenant at the beginning, you can never completely be sure that they are going to uphold their end of the deal by not doing any property damage or covering all costs in the event that they do. So long as you are the one on the lease, you are liable for honoring the lease agreement.

Insurance and subletting

While you may be required to buy renter’s insurance as a normal tenant, you may be unsure of how the insurance can come into play when subletting.

Renters insurance commonly covers three main categories, including personal property, liability, and living assistance. It will help replace personal property that can be stolen or damaged, like electronics. Each tenant is covered by their own individual insurance policy. If one roommate has renters insurance but the other doesn’t, only the roommate with the insurance policy will have their belongings protected.

This can extend to subletting. A subtenant’s belongings are not going to be covered by your renter’s insurance, so they should consider getting their own renters insurance during the subletting period.

If you are subletting for a short amount of time, you should not cancel your own renter’s insurance, especially if you plan to store your personal belongings there while you are away. Theft or damage will still be covered if you have renter’s insurance while subletting.

Short-term and long-term subletting

Depending on the situation, you can be looking to sublet your apartment for as little as one month to six months. If you are looking to sublet your apartment long-term, you should look into creating a sublease agreement with your landlord or putting the lease under your subtenant’s name.

The longer period of time you are looking to sublet, you may want to consider transferring the lease to the subtenant or canceling your lease altogether. Subletting can come with plenty of work, and it may be worth your time avoiding it altogether depending on your situation.

A sublease agreement outlines a transfer of less than all of the lease, such as if a single room out of a two-bedroom apartment is rented out to a subtenant, or if a subtenant rents an apartment for a few months. The sublease agreement can give more definition to subletting and allow more peace of mind on both sides of the situation.

Subletting can help you out in a sticky situation when done right. With this information in mind, you can evaluate if it is the right choice for your living situation.

It’s no secret that college costs a lot of money. Make sure your investment in higher education is protected with GradGuard. Our affordable tuition insurance and renters insurance plans are specifically designed for college students. Customizable plans make it easy to protect your tuition, room and board, laptop, bike, and so much more.

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