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Many people rent because they appreciate the freedom of being able to move after giving only a 30-day notice with no need to sell a home. However, moving all of your belongings can prove time-consuming and expensive, especially if you need to hire help. Sometimes, subletting a pad makes better financial sense than relocating.
That said, many people don’t know how to sublease an apartment. Others don’t know how to approach their landlord with the request, or how to find a subletter once they win approval. Here’s everything you need to know about subletting your apartment so that you can decide if doing so is right for you.
Reasons You Might Need to Sublease
Maybe you’ve gotten assigned a project that will take you , for a period of two months. Maybe your aging parent recently entered hospice and you want to spend their final days with them. Whatever the reason, you need to leave your home for more than a two-week vacation.
Subletting makes sense if you live in an area with high lodging demand. For example, finding affordable housing in New York City or Seattle can take months. Moving out altogether can mean struggling to find a new place — if you ever do.
Additionally, moving is usually costly. If you can’t move your furniture yourself and lack able-bodied friends to help, you have to pay for a moving company, and you may need to foot the bill for long-distance transport to boot. Add in hotel costs and gas, and before you know it, you’re looking at thousands of dollars worth of bills.
Whatever the reason, most renters can’t afford dealing with rent for an apartment they’re not even living in. Here’s how to avoid it.
6 Steps to Sublease an Apartment
If you’ve decided subletting makes better financial sense than moving, next you need to consider whether you know how to sublease an apartment. Follow the steps below:
- Research your options: Your first step involves finding out whether you can sublease at all. Some municipalities limit the number of subleases in a given area. Property management companies and landlords reserve the right to prohibit subletting too, so read your lease carefully.
- Check with HR if you’re on a work assignment: If you need to travel for work, your employer may foot the bill for your expenses. Find out if HR will cover your rent in your absence as well as pay for lodging while you’re out of town. If your employer will cover costs, you may not need someone in your space at all unless you want to earn extra cash.
- Approach your landlord: Talk to your landlord about your intentions. Let them know the circumstances. If you’ve been a good tenant, chances are, they’d rather keep you than take a risk with someone new.
- Find a subletter: Depending on your relationship with your landlord, you may wish to take this step before approaching them. Finding a qualified individual can streamline the approval process.
- Get it in writing: Get all terms of the sublease in writing, including how long the individual can stay, the monthly rent, who is responsible for utilities and repairs and similar terms.
- Automate rent collection: You need to think like a landlord when you sublease, which means getting paid. Depending on your arrangement, you may count on your subletter’s payment to make your own rent. If possible, encourage your subletters to enroll in automatic payments to simplify this process.
Tips for Approaching Your Landlord
To succeed with your sublease, inform your landlord of your plans. Also, keep in mind that you remain ultimately responsible for what happens to the rental unit. You could try to sneak in a subletter, but what happens if they burn the place down in your absence? If they commit a crime on the property?
To get a yes from your landlord, make sure you run a background check on any potential subletters. Provide your landlord with a copy of the results and a written sublease. Inform them of subletter contact information that they can use should an emergency occur while you’re away.
Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Subletter
Many people don’t know how to find a subletter. To find the best tenant, start your search the moment you know of your departure. Doing so will help you avoid mistakes that can happen if you’re rushing to find someone at the last minute.
Post ads on nationwide sites such as Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. While you may experience some success from placing an ad in a local paper, a larger audience will provide you with a bigger candidate pool. Plus, younger renters are overwhelmingly more likely to be searching online for a place to live.
Pay attention to your intuition. Your subconscious mind picks up on red flags that show someone is lying, for example, even if you don’t consciously know why something feels off. Assuming you’re not schlepping all of your belongings with you, you’re trusting this person with your most valuable possessions — honor your gut instinct.
How to Sublease an Apartment Effectively
Now that you know how to sublease an apartment and how to find a subletter, the world is your oyster. Enjoy your travels, and know your home awaits you when you return!