The dos and don’ts of subleasing your apartment
So let’s say you have the greatest apartment ever, but due to a work, family or personal commitment, you need to leave it behind for a few months. You might be traveling to an exciting place, helping your family out during a difficult time, or taking a temporary job assignment in another city. You have to leave, and your apartment doesn’t fit in your suitcase. What do you do?
One option that you might want to consider is subleasing. This is a short-term lease arrangement under which you rent out your rented apartment to another tenant. If it’s done right, subleasing can be a win-win for all involved. Done wrong, and it can be a disaster. Here are some dos and don’ts from an experienced subletter.
DO: Know for sure that you’re coming back. If you may be leaving the area permanently, you are better off giving up your apartment, putting your stuff in storage, and moving out. You won’t want to have to return to your old city to deal with these logistics later.
DO: Make sure the terms of the lease you hold allow subletting. And even if it’s in writing that they do, you should check with your landlord to make sure they understand the terms of the arrangement. Nobody likes surprises, and if something were to go wrong with your apartment while you are gone, your subtenant will need to contact the property manager directly.
DO: Be responsible for checking references, credit and credibility. You are the one who will forfeit any deposit if your subletter trashes your place, so check on these things just as diligently as a prospective landlord would. You will be sorry if you sublet to the wrong person.
DON’T: Burden your subtenant with any of your utility bills. This is too complicated to change into their name for a short-term period, so arrange a rental rate that includes any utilities they will be using while you are away.
DON’T: Consider subletting if you have a roommate, unless they are totally OK with the fact that a stranger will be taking your place in the house temporarily. I have sublet from people with roommates before and had the situation work out perfectly, but it could have been less-than-ideal if we both hadn’t been very laid back.
DON’T: Expect your subletter to not use your stuff. They will be living in your home, so anticipate that they will use dishes, utensils, linens and other everyday items. Pack away anything you don’t want them to have access to.