So you’ve got a new job in a different town, or maybe you’re moving in with your significant other. Perhaps a flight of fancy has gripped you and you’ve decided to embark on a whirlwind journey across the world. Regardless of the reason, you need to move out of your apartment, and you want to find someone to sublet your apartment for the remainder of your lease term, or for as long as you’ll be away from the apartment. What do you need to know and do in this situation? The following tips will help you create a successful sublease experience.
Step one: Landlord approval
Most apartment lease contracts specify that sublease arrangements are permissible only with prior landlord approval. Review your lease to determine if this is the case in your situation, and if so, chat with your landlord to find out what information is necessary for your landlord to approve your potential sublessee as a tenant. The subletting party may need to go through an application process, or the landlord may simply accept his or her tenancy based on an interview or just your word. Find out what your landlord is looking for in a sublease arrangement, and then embark upon a quest to find the perfect person to sublet your place. Make sure to determine whether your landlord will agree to deal with (and accept rent from) your sublessee, or if all arrangements will go through you. Landlords will rarely agree to put a sublessee on the lease, but if you can arrange this, it’s in your best interest—as this will increase your sublessee’s responsibility for rent and apartment maintenance.
Step two: Sublessee search
Subletting your apartment to your sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s former roommate’s acquaintance—relying only on word of mouth as his or her proof of reputability as a roommate—is probably not the way to go. Since your name will remain on the lease and you’ll ultimately be responsible for all rent and damages should your sublessee (the person subletting from you) fail to pay up, you want to be absolutely meticulous in your search for someone to sublet the apartment. At the very least, you need to request (and check up on) references and have a personal interview with the subletting candidate.
A potential sublessee should have a good rental history and a plausible reason for wanting to sublet as opposed to starting out a new lease of his or her own. Examples of good reasons for subletting include needing to stay in town for an odd length of time (three months, or eight months, say, which doesn’t fit well with a usual lease term of six months or a year), or wanting to try out a new location without a full lease commitment. Since subletting doesn’t require the sublessee to sign a contract with the landlord, it can be a good way for an individual with a sketchy rental history to take advantage of your good reputation—and ruin it either by failing to pay rent, or by inflicting excessive damages on the apartment. You don’t want your good rental record ruined, so make sure to pick a sublessee that will pay rent on time and treat the apartment as you would treat it. And don’t let desperation drive you into choosing an undesirable subletter—paying rent on two places for a while and locating a good sublessee is a better option than opening yourself up to the potential ravages of a badly behaved renter.
Step three: Agreement negotiation
When planning a sublease with your replacement, you’ll need to agree on several points, including the rent your sublessee will pay and the duration of the sublease. It’s obviously in your best interest to get your sublessee to pay your full share of the rent, but in some cases people offer to pay part of the rent in order to attract people to sublet their apartments. Hopefully you can avoid this technique, but if you do agree to split the rent, make sure it’s absolutely clear who will pay what—and when. You’ll also need to determine whether your sublessee will pay rent directly to your landlord, or to you. Some landlords will not accept rent from individuals not on the lease, so make sure to have this discussion prior to finalizing the sublease agreement.
If you get landlord approval, do background research on your potential sublessee, and make very specific arrangements for your sublease, your subletting experience should be a positive one for everyone involved. Preparation is the key, so think ahead and ask questions before agreeing to a deal. Once you know what you want and need, take action and establish your subletting agreement.