Have you ever considered subletting your apartment? You might not even know what subletting is. For starters, it's typically a short-term arrangement that allows you to rent your apartment to what's known as a “sublessor” or “subtenant”. The subtenant signs a sublease, agreeing to live in your leased apartment for a pre-determined period of time. You get paid by the subtenant, end everything seems ideal, but there are aspects of the subletting process and the subrental time period that you should be fully aware of. We cover the pros and cons of subletting your apartment and help you decide if it's the right situation for you.
So, why even consider subletting your apartment? Is it a good idea for you? Much of it has to do with what your work and living situations are. If there are extended periods of time where you are living elsewhere, it could save you a lot of money. For example, if you're a student who is gone during the summer months or is studying abroad, subletting makes a lot of sense. Also, if you have a job that requires you to travel extensively for months at a time, it might be financially beneficial for you to have someone cover all (or most) of your monthly rent payment.
There are always people looking for shorter-term arrangements, which means you should have no problem finding a subtenant. The benefit of doing so is saving thousands of dollars that might otherwise go wasted while you're not living there. There's an additional benefit in that you have someone keeping an eye on your place while you're gone and even potentially taking care of pets or plants that need care while you're away.
The real issue is finding a subtenant that's both responsible and reliable. If your subtenant doesn't take care of your apartment and causes damage, he or she is not typically liable for it unless specifically stated in your sublease language. Most of the time, anything in the way of damages is actually your responsibility as the original tenant.
That doesn't mean you can't try to get compensation from your subtenant, but legally the condition of your apartment is on you. So, it behooves you to perform a background check on the person who will sign the sublease to your place. Also, check social media to see what their lifestyle is like, and also ask for employment history, and verify that they are gainfully employed and have been for a consistent period of time.
Finally, they have to pay you directly, and you then pay your own landlord. The subtenant does not pay directly to your landlord, so if your subtenant fails to pay, you are still responsible to make timely payment to your landlord or leasing office. The sublease document is legally binding, but that doesn't involve your landlord in any way. It's between you and your subtenant.
Here are five important steps in the subleasing process. Follow these, and you should be able to minimize your level of risk:
Check Your Lease: You can't embark on a sublease arrangement until you actually confirm that it's an option in your lease. If it's an available option for you, write up your sublease document based on the original rules and regulations of your own lease so that your subtenant abides by those. Aspects such as monthly rent amount, due date, method of payment, parking, pets, noise, etc. should be explicitly outlined so there are no violations of your original lease as you signed it.
Inform Your Landlord: Just because there's a provision in your lease that allows for subleasing doesn't mean you don't have to let your landlord know. If he suddenly sees someone living in your apartment that he hasn't seen or met, questions will most assuredly arise. Provide your subtenant's information once you find someone, as well as provide your own contact information where you'll stay during the sublease period.
Find a Good Subtenant: The best way to do it is to go through your own network of friends and family so at least there's some character reference. You can, of course, rely on social media to get the word out (it's free, compared to newspapers), as well as sites like Craigslist. Provide as much information as you can in terms of location, bedrooms, parking, and the term of the sublease in order to whittle down potentials and to not waste any time.
Get a Signature and Communicate Clearly: Once you find someone who will hopefully pay on time and take care of the place, make sure you clearly outline exactly what is expected. Again, make sure he/she knows when payment is due, how much is due, the term of the sublease, any late fees (that your own landlord assesses for your lease), what is included in the lease in terms of furnishings, utility payments, pet regulations, smoking, noise, etc. Make copies of the signed sublease and provide one to your subtenant.
Schedule a Walk-Through and Move-In Date: It's always a good idea to meet in person to do a walkthrough and to take photos of the original condition of the apartment and your possessions (if you keep them there). This way, there's no dispute about what things were like upon move-in. Also, find a move-in date and make sure that information is also provided to your landlord in case a freight elevator needs to be reserved.