Know Before You Rent

What to do When You Need to Sublet?

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What to do When You Need to Sublet?
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You just landed the perfect job, but it’s in a different city and you’re stuck in a lease. Or maybe you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go backpacking in Europe during the summer.

If you find yourself needing to move before your lease is up, you may want to try to sublet your apartment.

Subletting is letting someone else take over the responsibilities of your lease, and it can be a good option when you need to move before your contract is up.

Plus, it’s a much better option than not giving notice to your landlord, which can cost you in the end by affecting your rental history.

Steps to Take…

1. Ask Your Landlord.

First, check your leasing contract. It might tell you ahead of time if you’re allowed to sublet your apartment.

Not all landlords will allow you to sublet, and some states have laws that will affect what you can and can’t do. Your landlord will let you know if subletting is even possible, and may even have a tenant in mind for you.

If your landlord does agree, it’s a good idea to get his or her permission — in writing — before moving on to the next steps.

2. Involve your roommates.

If you have roommates, tell them ahead of time about your plans and make sure they have a say in every step of the process. Doing so will increase the odds everyone will get along when you leave.

Plus, they also might know of someone looking for a place to sublet.

3. Advertise your place.

If you don’t know someone right away to sublet your apartment, there are several places to get the word out.

But before you list your room for rent, make sure everything is in tip-top shape.

  • Clean: Yes, that means making the bed (even if you don’t do this every day). Move the furniture if it makes your room look better.
  • Declutter: Your desk may normally look like a tornado just came through, but your ideal tenant may be a neat freak.
  • Shoot with great light: If possible, take pictures during the daytime. Know a photography student? Ask them to take pictures of your room for his or her portfolio.

Now that you have your tidy room and professional photos, you’re ready to post your ad. Make sure you include all the important details like rent, dates available and contact information.

  • Post an ad on sites like Sublet, Craigslist, and Uloop.
  • Post it on social media. Ask your friends to share the listing!
  • Make flyers. Place them in your apartment’s common area, the local coffee shops, your workplace, where you go to yoga or anywhere else you can think of.
  • Use good old-fashioned word of mouth. Ask everyone you know!

4. Conduct an interview and walk-through.

Once you’ve found people interested in subletting your space, it’s time for the interview process.

Make sure your current roommates are available to meet the potential new roommate so you can be sure everyone will get along. Plus, ensures someone is at the house with you when new people come to meet you.

Make sure you lock up anything of value during your walk-throughs and don’t leave any extra sets of keys lying around.

5. Work out the details

Once you’ve found the perfect tenant to sublet your apartment, it’s time to work out the nitty-gritty.

Make sure you both know details such as how the rent will be paid if bills are included, and what the move-out date is.

Is there something your prospective tenant wants and you are willing to give him or her? Be willing to negotiate.

Questions to ask may include:

  • Are you working?
  • If you aren’t working, do you receive financial aid (for college students)?
  • Why are you looking to sublet an apartment?
  • How long do you need to sublet an apartment?
  • Do you have pets?
  • Will any other people be living with you? (If so, make sure this is OK with your landlord and any other roommates.)
  • Do you plan on having any parties or other people stay at the apartment? (If so, let your landlord and roommates know so they’re aware.)

You’ll have to answer some questions, too, but make sure you answer them honestly. If there’s anything they should know — the sink drains slowly, your roommate in the second room works the night shift — let them know. This might be their house.

You’ll also want to consider getting a security deposit in case anything goes wrong while you’re away.

6. Get everything in writing

Keep in mind, you’re still liable for everything even though you are subletting your apartment.

For this reason, it’s helpful to have documentation of everything you do.

If you negotiated any terms with the person you will be subletting your apartment to, make sure these are in your sublet agreement (including the security deposit). Otherwise, it may come back to haunt you.

Have everyone — you, your sublet tenant, your roommates and your landlord — sign the sublet agreement (print out the form for your state here), and make sure everyone agrees with the terms involved.

Make multiple copies of the sublet agreement in case you need to refer back to it for any reason.

Finding the Right Person

Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you have the right person taking over your space.

After all, a bad sublet tenant can appear on your future rental background check.

You may be eager to find someone to sublet quickly, but asking the right questions can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Even if a friend or co-worker is taking over, it’s still important to make sure you follow all the steps you would if someone you didn’t know was going to sublet your apartment.

To make sure you’ve made the right choice, ask for references and follow through with calling them.

If you prefer to have a background check done, ask your landlord for advice on what to do, and offer to pay for the fees involved. The cost ranges from about $25-$40, depending on what state you live in.

Moving Out

Once you have your perfect tenant and you’re ready to head off on your new adventure, there are still a few more details to follow up on.

Don’t worry, the hard part is over.

  • Take pictures: By documenting what your room looked like before you left, you will be able to provide evidence to your landlord or anyone else, if needed, if there are any questions about something that happened while you were away. This can also be useful when deciding whether to give back a security deposit.
  • Store your valuables: Take everything that is important to you and put it somewhere else. In storage. At your parent’s house. A lockbox. Don’t leave it in your room.
  • Clean your space: Do you remember what is was like when you moved in? Make sure your tenant has a clean, tidy space to move into. If the furniture is staying, wash all of the bedding. Clean the dishes. Make your space feel welcomed.
  • Keys: An overlooked detail! Decide whether you will make an extra copy or give up your own. This may ultimately depend on if you’re moving out of state or returning to your apartment.
  • Keep your word: Remember, you are ultimately responsible for what goes on when you sublet your apartment, and your name is still on the lease. Make sure you stick to whatever you signed off on in your contract.
  • Give yourself an out: Make sure in your contract you have a way to evict your sublet tenant. If he or she is not paying rent or is not following the rules you agreed to, you’ll need a backup to keep your rental history in good shape.
  • Contact, contact, contact: Make yourself available. If anyone — the person who has sublet your apartment, your landlord, your roommates — needs to reach you, make sure this is possible to avoid any potential messy endings.
  • Clarity for clarity’s sake: Make it easy for the person who is going to sublet your apartment. Where will he or she mail the check? What is the number to maintenance? What are the rules for the apartment grounds?

Moving On

You’ve nailed down the details and know who will take over your lease.

It’s time to move on with your life.

A head’s up: Don’t expect to recoup your full rent payment. Most of the time you’ll get back 70-80 percent of what you would have paid.

If you’re in a college town you may be able to get more. You may want to try and initially post the rent you pay because you can always negotiate a lower price.

But the option to sublet your apartment can be a cheaper and better way to make sure your future rental background checks come up positive.

Leave us a comment if you’ve sublet your apartment successfully!