So, you are enjoying apartment life, but are also looking forward to that break from your home for more than a long weekend? Perhaps you have landed a summer internship, studying abroad, or are trying to move before your current lease is up, or maybe you are taking on a new adventure for only a few months and don’t want to waste money on rent while you are gone. Subletting may be the perfect way for you to step into the next few months of your life away from home without worrying about your apartment sitting vacant.
What is subletting?
Subletting is renting out an apartment to someone else for a short time while you are renting it from the landlord. It is a great way to save money, but it doesn’t come without risk. The responsibility falls on your shoulders if your sub-tenant doesn’t pay rent. If there is any damage to the apartment or they break the apartment-complex rules, you could be liable for the costs involved.
Another form of subletting is “reletting,” when your landlord ends your lease and immediately fills your spot with a new tenant. This is the preferable option for a tenant looking to get out of their lease (instead of subletting their apartment until the end of the contract date), as it completely releases you from being held liable for a sub-renter’s actions.
Steps to subletting
If you are considering subletting or looking at co living apartments, it is best to start communicating with your roommates (if applicable) and your landlord as soon as possible. Remember that lease laws and agreements are different everywhere, so you will need to look into your local guidelines before making any changes to your contract or living arrangements.
Know your rights and your lease agreement
Some states have laws about subletting that may dictate things like how much notice you need to give the property owner or if you need their written permission to sublet.
Before pursuing a sublease, re-read your lease to find out if your apartment complex requires sublet fees, if you would face fees for ending your lease earlier than the contract date, or if you need your landlord’s written consent to proceed.
These factors may help you decide between subletting and ending your lease altogether. For example, if you do not plan on returning to your apartment and your landlord is also on-board, you could relet your apartment. If your landlord is not in agreement, you may be restricted.
Tell your landlord your plan
The key to having a smooth transition without being blindsided by fees is forming a plan together with your landlord. Approach your landlord with a detailed plan — including when you plan to move out and your plan to find a new tenant. This can help you and your landlord navigate the lease and subletting process by working together instead of against each other.
Find a subtenant
There are many ways to find a subtenant. From posting your apartment listing online to going the word-of-mouth route, finding someone to sublet your apartment can be easy when you cast your nets wide enough. Consider asking classmates, friends, or family for references first – this can help mitigate the possibility of having a reckless subtenant that leaves you paying fees for property damage or late rent payments.
Some universities have online marketplaces/forums for students to advertise things like school textbooks, furniture for sale, or apartment rental listings. This may be a valuable tool if you need to find someone to take over your lease or fill your rental while you are away. It is free to post a listing on sites like these, and you may get a wider pool of people to choose from than simply by asking friends and classmates for recommendations.
Ideally, you want your subtenant to have a high credit score, a clean criminal background check, and a monthly income exceeding three times their monthly rent contribution.
Negotiate the price and terms
Once you have a potential sub-tenant interested in your sublet opportunity, you need to confirm their interest and agree on things like the sublet contract and pricing. Show them around the apartment, give them a tour of the complex, introduce them to your roommates if you have any, and share the price of rent and utilities with them. Once the potential subtenant is fully informed, you can verbally agree on how much the subtenant is expected to pay for rent and utilities each month. Inform the landlord as part of the effort to help make the rental transition more smooth for everyone.
Once you have acquired a verbal agreement, you can get a sublet agreement in writing. This is crucial, as having a contract in writing will protect you if your sublet tenant fails to follow the terms agreed upon in the contract. In this written agreement, include:
- Details about rent and utilities
- Furnishings included in the contract
- Rules for the apartment complex
- What the process is in the case of property damage
Subletting can be a great way to increase your income, but it’s important to know what you’re doing first to ensure you aren’t breaking any rules. Use this expert advice as your starting point and refer back to it to help guide you through the process.
About the Author/s
The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.