In simplest terms, subletting means that you will let another person live in your rented apartment until your lease expires, or for a temporary period of time (say, while you’re overseas or in another city). Subletting is different from sharing an apartment. With that being said, here are some important guidelines to remember if you are looking to sublet your apartment:
- Know the rules for subletting in your area. There are state laws regarding subletting; your first step is to find out what these laws are to ensure that you’re in the clear. Check out propertydo.com to find out the basic subletting laws in your state. Generally, your first step should be to get approval from your tenant.
- Settle all matters with your landlord. Make sure that you obtain a written agreement on the details of your subletting. For example, will your landlord have a say on who will sublet your apartment? Will he accept the rent from the sublessee, or should the payment course through you? Are you going to be answerable for the unpaid rent payments of your sublessee (generally, you will be). Again, but it bears repeating, you should have a copy of this agreement in writing.
- Advertise, advertise, advertise. A good place to stay is a basic need, and especially if your apartment is in an accessible location, you will certainly have your pick of candidates who will want to sublet your apartment. But nobody will apply if nobody knows your apartment is up for lease! The key here is to effectively advertise your apartment for subletting.
On the other hand, you should be careful about where you advertise if you want to score reputable and reliable sublessees. Post announcements at places such as at your office or church bulletin board, or at reputable newspapers.
- Do a background check on your potential sublessees. Remember this: your best friend may be the most fun person to have around, but this doesn’t mean that she’d be the most reliable person to sublet your apartment to. It’s highly likely that you’d be responsible for your sublessee’s missed payments and damages, so take the time to check if your potential sublessee is generally responsible with her financial obligations. Check her credit report, and find out too if she has previous or pending police or criminal records. Ask for recommendations from her previous landlords, or from her co-workers or bosses. Try checking out sublet.com where you could run such background checks, for a fee.
- Consider collecting payments through credit cards. If your landlord makes you responsible for collecting payments from your sublessee, you can make your life easier by accepting only credit card payments instead of payment through cash or bank deposits. Credit card payments are guaranteed automatic payments, and you wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of physically collecting payments or paying check processing fees.
- Write up an agreement between you and your sublessee. If the landlord made you responsible for collecting payments from your sublessee, that effectively makes you the “sub-landlord” yourself. You’d need to draft a written agreement between you and your sublessee, regarding aspects such as mode of payment, the duration of her stay in your apartment, the terms of the lease, etc. You might even ask for the sublessee’s co-signor, in case she isn’t able to fulfill her payment obligations. Make sure that your agreement is legally sound by consulting a lawyer.
Subletting an apartment is a very practical alternative to just leaving your apartment without an occupant for long periods of time. Of course, do make sure that you follow these guidelines for subletting your apartment, to ensure protection for yourself. Good luck!