Are you thinking about subletting your apartment to someone while you’re away? It’s a great opportunity to earn additional income if your lease agreement allows it. Here are 5 factors to consider before you let someone move into your personal space:
1. Legal Protections
The number one factor to consider is whether you are legally protected as a subletter. You have to make sure that your lease agreement permits subletting in the first place. If it does, you need to follow the steps outlined in the agreement to obtain valid permission to sublet, such as a written request to your landlord and your receipt of a written permission to sublease to a tenant. If you’re not legally protected, you’ll expose yourself to a damages and an eviction notice that may stand up in court. If your lease agreement doesn’t address subletting, simply ask your landlord for a written permission, or sign an amendment to your lease agreement including a sublease clause.
2. Risk of Damage
You don’t want to look at potential sub-tenants as people who would damage your apartment, but you have to consider the possibility of it and protect yourself. You are legally obligated to your landlord for damages to the apartment, and a subtenant may cause damages that far exceed your security deposit. If you don’t have money set aside for damages, you may not be financially prepared for subletting. One possible solution is to ask for a large enough security deposit from your sub-tenant before moving in. You’d still be on the hook for damages to the property which the deposit may not cover.
3. Risk of Theft
If you’re subletting a furnished apartment, and leaving your electronics and appliances to be used by the sub-tenant, you risk them stealing from you. You need to consider this factor before subletting and put your items in storage if you’re worried about it. A background check and personal references check can be helpful if you choose to make those items available for use. If you don’t already have renters insurance, buying a policy is a must before you sublease, to protect you against loss due to theft.
4. Risk of Non-Payment
You are still obligated to pay rent when you’re subletting. Your sub-tenant may not pay rent at all, or fail to pay rent on time. The landlord is going to look to you for payment, and you can’t redirect him to your sub-tenant. You can avoid this by having a small monetary reserve fund to pay for rent, just in case your sub-tenant defaults on rent or is late in paying. Using your sub-tenant’s security deposit may not be an option according to your state’s law, and therefore you shouldn’t rely on it for non-payment.
5. You’re a Landlord
You may not want to get in the business of becoming a landlord. When you’re subletting, you become a full-time, sub-landlord. All of the calls and complaints go to you, and you have to resolve your sub-tenant’s issues. This may not be a good fit for you if you’re busy or very far away during the sublease agreement. If you don’t mind being a sub-landlord, then managing your sub-tenant is a minor factor to consider.
If you review these factors and still think that subletting is right for you, then go for it. Make sure you protect yourself financially and legally, so that you don’t regret your decision.