What You Need to Know About Subletting

By Brittany Loeffler on December 16, 2017

There are a few reasons to sublet your apartment while in college. Maybe you are transferring to another university, studying abroad for a semester, or have decided that the roommates you live with aren’t a good fit. Whatever the reason you have for subletting your apartment, it’s important to become aware of the process, risks, and rules of subletting so it’s a good thing you came here to read up on everything you need to know about subletting your apartment!

via Pixabay

What Does Subletting Mean?

Subletting your apartment is a way to get out of your lease without completely breaking it or having to pay the landlord rent each month. It is a separate agreement between you and the subtenant, whoever will be living in your apartment. Think of it as if you are the landlord leasing out your room to a tenant.

Even though you do not own the property, you do take on the role of the landlord. Your actual landlord is typically not involved in this transaction, however, they should also know about it. Even you handed off your apartment to a subtenant, you are still legally responsible to pay the landlord rent if your subtenant does not.

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 will have to sign a lease with the landlord.

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, prior experience, 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 are subletting your apartment and ask them for advice. They may have their own protocol to 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.

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, it is safer to sublet your apartment to someone you know and trust rather than a stranger.

Use your network and other people’s networks to find a trustworthy person to take over your apartment.

via Pixabay

Interview Potential Tenants

Whether you found someone to sublet the apartment through friends and family or from the Internet, it’s important to sit down with them for an interview. It 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.

You should 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% of a tenant’s monthly income. It never hurts to ask for references either.

Require a Security Deposit

Once you have found someone you trust to move into your apartment, have 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 is equal to one month’s rent. The person holding the deposit must keep it in a non-interest bearing escrow account. It’s very easy to set up, just go to your bank and tell them the situation. Once the lease is over and your subtenant has paid all necessary rent and did not cause any damage, you can withdraw their security deposit and return it to them.

via Pixabay

Have a Written Agreement

It’s good practice to 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.

Decide What You Will Leave Behind

If you are studying abroad for a semester, you may decide to leave your furniture behind. Before you decide to sublet, decide what you are going to leave behind for your subtenant. Will you leave a set of linens that fit your bed for the subtenant to use or will they have to bring their own? Will you leave your dishes and cookware for the tenant? Make sure to tell your subtenant your expectations of how they should treat your belongings and what will happen if something is damaged.

By Brittany Loeffler

Uloop Writer
Brittany is a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing at Temple University. After growing up in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, she found her calling in the streets of the big city of Philadelphia. Aside from writing, she enjoys reading, movies, baking, and photography.

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