You might have to sublet your apartment while in college for a few reasons. Maybe you want to transfer to another university or study abroad for a semester. Or you can’t stand another semester of living with your current roommates. Whatever the reason for subletting your apartment, look into the process, risks and rules of subletting.
Read on for how to sublet an apartment like a pro rolling stone.
What Does Subletting Mean?
Subletting your apartment technically lets you out of your lease without completely breaking it or paying the landlord rent each month. You’ll make a separate agreement between you and the subtenant, whoever will be living in your apartment. Think of it as the landlord leasing out your room to a tenant.
Even though you don’t own the property, you do take on the role of the landlord. Your actual landlord may or may not require you to go through their leasing agency to make this agreement. Either way, they should always know about it. Even though you handed off your apartment to a subtenant, you’re still legally responsible to pay the landlord rent if your subtenant doesn’t. Also, keep in mind that your agreement with the subtenant can only be for the length of your lease, no longer. If they decide they want to stay, then they need to sign a lease with the landlord.
What to Do When Subletting
1. Get Permission
Make sure to read your lease carefully before signing it. Some landlords will not allow you to sublet your apartment due to the hassle, bad prior experiences or because of state laws. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, do not allow tenants to sublet rental properties. Talk to your landlord about the reason you want to sublet your apartment and ask them for advice. They may have their own protocol for subletting where they must approve the subtenant. It’s always important to keep the landlord informed of these decisions since it is ultimately their property.
2. Ask Friends and Family First
Before you go about putting advertisements on Facebook and Craigslist, ask your friends and family if they or someone they know needs a place to live for a little while. Since you are still ultimately responsible for the rent, subletting your apartment to someone you know and trust rather than a stranger ensures you won’t go broke in this arrangement. Use your network and other people’s networks to find a trustworthy person to take over your apartment.
3. Interview Potential Tenants
Whether you found someone to sublet the apartment through friends and family or from the Internet, sit down with them for an interview to investigate their character. The interview doesn’t have to be formal; it can happen after they have seen the property. Get a feel for the kind of person they are and ask questions about their lifestyle and occupation. Focus on their income and how they expect to pay rent. A good rule of thumb that landlords typically use is that the rent should be no more than 30 percent of a tenant’s monthly income. It never hurts to ask for references.
4. Require a Security Deposit
Once you find someone you trust to move into your apartment, make them put down a security deposit before they move in. This will act as protection in case they miss a month of rent or damage the property so much that you don’t receive your original security deposit back from your landlord. Typically, a security deposit equals one month’s rent. The person holding the deposit must keep it in a non-interest bearing escrow account. Just go to your bank and tell them the situation and they will help you set up the right account. Once the lease ends and your subtenant has paid all necessary rent and paid for any damage, you can withdraw their security deposit and return it to them.
5. Sign a Written Agreement
Get things in writing, especially when money is involved. Ask your landlord if they happen to have any subletting agreements handy that you can use. If not, take a look online to find one that will fit your situation. Make sure to have the subtenant read it over and sign it before they move in. Keep it on file throughout the duration of the lease for reference.