Your College Guide to Subletting

This article is brought to you by Christine Ascher at Uloop, a leading college news and college classifieds resource for off-campus student housing, study abroad opportunities, jobs and internships, college roommates and sublets, tutors and scholarships, student travel, and local services for college students.

Moving into off-campus housing is exciting; it means having more space and more independence. However, it will probably also require signing a year-long lease. If you won’t be living at school for the summer or decide to study abroad for a semester, you might find yourself in a difficult situation — no one wants to pay rent on an apartment that they’re not living in.

Fortunately, you can solve this dilemma by subletting. Subletting means that you’ll be finding someone else to take over your lease for a certain amount of time. While you are still responsible for ensuring that the rent is paid and the apartment is well cared for, you’ll save a lot of money in the long-run.

Before you start looking for a subtenant, however, know what you’re getting yourself into. Here’s a basic overview of what you’ll need to do.

Check with Your Building Management

The first step when you decide to sublet is to check with your landlord to ensure that it’s allowed. While most buildings will permit subletting, this is not always the case; you’ll be better off checking right away so you know what your options are.

Some cities and states have laws regarding subletting, so check to ensure that it is legal where you live before you begin. Consult your lease or ask your landlord in person to find out the rules. There also may be certain procedures that your building requires you to follow in finding a subtenant; for instance, some will require background checks to be performed before you can finalize the sublet.

Advertise Your Apartment

When you decide to sublet, you’ll need to start advertising your apartment. The best place to begin is with your friends; see if anyone you know is looking for a temporary place to stay or knows someone who is. If you find a subtenant that you already know, you’ll have a better idea of how trustworthy they are — a quality that is essential when you’re looking for a subtenant.

You can also try reaching out to students in some of the clubs and on-campus organizations that you’re involved in, to see if any of them would be interested. If this doesn’t work, your next step should be to utilize social media. Clean up your apartment and take some pictures, then post them on your school’s Facebook page.

You can also post on websites such as Uloop or Craigslist to reach a wider audience.

Vet Your Subtenant

With luck, you’ll have some interest in your apartment and will be able to choose between candidates for your subtenant. It’s important to thoroughly vet your potential subtenants, as you will still ultimately be responsible for any missing rent payments or damage done to the property.

You might even want to pay to have a background and credit check done so that you can be sure there are no red flags. It’s also a good idea to ask for some references if you’re dealing with a stranger. You want to make sure that you’re subletting to someone responsible and reliable, so try to find someone who can attest to these qualities in your candidates.

Set Your Price

The percentage of your monthly rental payment that you receive from your subtenant will depend in large part on the demand for apartments in your area. If a lot of people are trying to find summer apartments, you might be able to charge the full amount in rent.

However, this will not always be the case. You might have to lower the price that you’re expecting to receive in order to draw in more interest. According to Forbes, it’s safe to expect about 70 to 80 percent of your rent each month from your subtenant. Price is an area that you’ll be able to negotiate, and it may help you narrow down candidates if some are willing to pay more than others. Keep an open mind during negotiations, as even if you don’t receive your full rent in return, it will be better than paying the entire amount yourself.

Draw Up a Contract

When you sublet, you essentially become the landlord over your subtenant. This means that you’re going to be held responsible for any issues that arise. To protect yourself from a messy legal situation, draw up a thorough contract and have it signed by yourself, your subtenant, and your landlord. This should include important information such as the amount of rent you expect your subtenant to pay, the amount of the security deposit if you choose to ask for one, move-in and move-out dates and basic rules such as whether they can have a pet.

Though you’ll probably have to draw it up on your own, you can use websites such as Rocket Lawyer for contract templates. Even if you think that your subtenant is reliable, you’ll always be better off if you’re covered by a contract.

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