People choose to sublet their apartments for a number of reasons. Perhaps they’re going away for a long holiday or returning home from school for the summer. Any time you’re going to be living elsewhere for an extended period of time is a good time to consider subletting your apartment. That way, you won’t have to pay rent for a space you aren’t even using.
Of course, there are some things to consider before subletting your apartment. It’s not as easy as inviting someone into your home for a couple months and charging them rent. There are laws, risks, and responsibilities that must be thought over.
Check Your Lease
Before you go any further with the idea of subletting your apartment, you must check your lease agreement to see if it’s even allowed. Read through your entire lease to make sure you understand the full extent of your landlord’s subletting policy.
If they do allow it, they may have strict rules in place. For example, they may require you to give them prior notice or want to approve the subtenant themselves before allowing them to move in.
Tell Your Landlord
Even if your lease does permit subletting but doesn’t necessarily require you to inform your landlord, you still should. Make sure to get in contact with them and let them know you are considering subletting your place while you are away.
If all goes well, make sure to get your landlord’s permission in writing in case something goes wrong.
Consider the Risks
Now that you’re good to go on the landlord front, you can start to consider the other factors that go into subletting your apartment.
For one thing, you’ll be opening up your home to someone else — someone who might possibly be a complete stranger. There are always risks involved with that, like potential theft or serious damage to the property, both of which you would be responsible for. Remember that there are always going to be risks, even when you do everything right.
Ask Family or Friends First
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger living in your apartment, consider asking your family members and friends if they’re looking for a place to stay. It might put your mind at ease to know the person who’s going to be staying in your home.
A friend of a friend is also a good option to consider, but even if you know the person well, you should always do your due diligence — just as you would with a stranger.
Before you choose your subletter, take the same steps that a landlord would before leasing an apartment, because, well, you’re basically the landlord in this situation.
Treat the process the same, which means having people fill out an application, checking references, asking for a security deposit, doing a credit check, and requiring them to sign a rental agreement. Even with all of that, you’re going to have to trust your gut feeling about whether or not you feel comfortable with that person.
Create a Sublease Agreement
Having a formal sublease agreement is really important. Your landlord might even have a preferred one for you to use, but it’s not that hard to find a free template form online.
Even if you know the person who is going to subletting your place, treat them the same way you would any subtenant, and have them sign the lease. Always get everything in writing, signed and dated, so you have access to a proper paper trail in case something goes wrong.
Gather Photographic Proof
Another way to protect yourself as a tenant is to take photos of your apartment and any belongings you plan on leaving behind. Do this before the subtenant moves in so you have photographic evidence of the condition you left everything in. If your camera has the date set on it, the photo file will, too, and that will help you out even more.
You should also go through the apartment and photograph all the same things after they move out so you can compare the photos and inspect for damage. The more proof, the better.
Just like you would hope to be able to contact your landlord in the event that something went wrong, your subtenant is going to hope that you will be easily accessible in emergency situations. Your landlord might be okay with acting as their main point of contact for the space, but this responsibility could just as easily fall on you.
If you aren’t going to be close by, it’s a good idea to have a trusted friend or family member available if anything goes wrong. You could also ask this person to periodically check on your home.
Create a Contact List
Write up a detailed contact list of the people your subtenant can contact for different things. This might include your phone number, your landlord’s, and a trusted friend’s.
You could also leave a reference guide for your subletter that lists all of your home’s little quirks, the Wi-Fi password, the garbage pickup time, and the floor where the laundry room is located. Anything you would want to know when you first move in is probably good to include.
Clear the Space
Before you hand over the keys, make sure to remove your valuables and anything you wouldn’t want damaged from the apartment. This would obviously include things like expensive jewelry, small electronics, and cash, but it could also include expensive clothes, furniture, and even sentimental knick-knacks. If the thought of it getting broken breaks your heart, take it out of your apartment.
You could see about storing these things in an off-site garage or storage unit, which would cost you a little bit but not as much as an empty apartment.
No matter how much you do to be safe and prepared, there are always going to be risks when subletting your apartment. Make sure you’re actually comfortable with the idea, because if it makes you too nervous, then it might be better to just not do it.