By Logan Livers, Storage.com
Whenever you’re changing homes, you have a lot to think about. Let Storage.com help you navigate the process with tips on buying, selling, or renting, or with some additional space to help along the way.
Occasionally, people will need to move out of a rental property before their lease expires. Whether you need to move for a new job opportunity, college break, traveling abroad, or any other reason, life doesn’t always coincide perfectly with a set lease agreement. When breaking a lease isn’t financially feasible, tenants often turn to subletting their apartment so they can move out before the end of the lease without draining their bank accounts.
The subleasing process can be foreign territory for many renters, and things can go poorly when not done the right way. When subletting an apartment to a new tenant, the original leaseholder is held liable for the property so it’s extremely important to take the proper precautions when you choose to sublease. If you need to sublet your apartment, make sure you follow these important steps.
1. Gain Permission to Sublet
Before you start planning to move out and sublease your apartment, you’ll first need to get the proper permission from everyone involved with the space. That means you should not only seek permission from your landlord, but you need to double-check with your roommates, if applicable.
Learn about Your Leasing Options
- Make sure your lease agreement doesn’t explicitly ban subletting, because if it does then you won’t have any option other than breaking your lease.
- If you have the option to sublet, you’ll want to get your landlord’s permission in writing before pursuing a potential subtenant. Tangible proof of their permission will help you avoid any legal fiascos in the future.
Check with Your Roommates
- If you have roommates who are on the lease you’ll need to talk with them about subleasing your room. If they aren’t okay with someone else moving in, you shouldn’t sublet.
- If they are okay with you subletting your room, they’ll likely want to be involved in selecting their new roommate.
2. Find a Trustworthy Tenant
Once you’ve gained permission to sublet your apartment space to another tenant, you’ll need to search for someone who is willing to take over the space.
Start with Friends and Family
Your first option when subletting your apartment is to find a family member or friend that can move in and take over the lease. This is always the easiest transition, and you’ll know if they can be trusted or not.
- Do you know anyone who could use a temporary place to stay? Check on social media to see what’s going on and if any of your friends or family members are apartment hunting.
- What about your roommates? Do they know anyone looking for a new place? They would probably prefer to live with someone that they already know.
Set Up Your Apartment for Pictures and Showings
If you can’t find anybody you already know to take over the lease, you’ll have to get started on finding a suitable subtenant. The first step is to make sure your apartment looks as nice as possible so you can really impress potential tenants. Here are some tips for making your apartment a desirable place to sublet:
- Clean It Up: Seriously, you’ll want to clean like your damage deposit depends on it. By cleaning your apartment, you’ll be able to put your best foot forward when showing it off. For pictures and showings, you’ll want everything to be in pristine condition.
- Rearrange Furniture: Arrange your furniture in a way that shows off what the space is capable of. Create separate areas in each room, like a cozy reading area in your living room, if possible. The more you do with the space, the larger it will look.
- Take Great Pictures: It won’t matter how good your apartment looks if you take unflattering pictures of the space. Take pictures during the day to take advantage of natural lighting and to make the space seem more cheerful. Keep angles and framing in mind, and you should be able to take some attractive pictures that really show off the space.
Searching for a Tenant
Once you’ve gotten your apartment ready for showcasing, it’s time to get the word out about your available space and find a suitable tenant. There are plenty of methods for getting the word out, including posters and flyers. Here are some valuable online resources that can help you find a tenant.
Listing Your Apartment
- Craigslist: Craigslist is a really helpful and free resource that allows you to post your apartment listing online. When listing your apartment, fill out as much information as possible so people can easily find your listing when they filter the results to fit their needs. Upload plenty of pictures and list every amenity you have at your property. If you plan on renting out the property fully furnished, you’ll want to pitch that as well. Also be sure to provide a reliable way for interested people to contact you.
- Sublet.com: Sublet.com is an online marketplace completely dedicated to subletting rental properties. Landlords and tenants can create their own accounts and many people look through the site to find a place to sublet. Again, when creating your listing, you want to be as thorough as possible so tenants know exactly what to expect from the space and can find you in advanced searches.
If you get some interest, you’ll want to interview potential subtenants to make sure they can be trusted to live in a space that you’re still responsible for. If they damage the property or don’t pay rent you will be held responsible, so this is an important step. You can protect yourself by properly evaluating potential tenants.
- Involve your roommates in the evaluation process, since they’ll be the ones living with the new tenant.
- Ask for a sample pay stub to prove that they can afford the rent every month. To ensure that you won’t get stuck paying for the rent yourself, you’ll want their monthly income to be at least two and half times the cost of rent.
- Make sure you ask important questions like when they are looking to move in, if they have pets, and if they’ll be able to provide a damage deposit along with the first rent payment. Their answers should give you a good idea of how responsible they are. For example, if they can’t afford the damage deposit right away they may not be in a great financial situation.
- You’ll also want to ask if they’ll consent to a credit and background check. Written permission is required to run these checks, and they can give you a great idea of how trustworthy they’ll be as a tenant. If you’ve never run a credit check before, here is a great resource on how to run a credit check on a potential tenant.
- Ask potential tenants for references from their employer and former (or current) landlords and take the time to contact them.
3. Sign a Written Agreement
Make the sublease official between you, the landlord, and the new resident by signing a written agreement. Even if you’re subleasing the apartment to a friend or family member, you’ll want to sign a written agreement to make sure that everything is legally documented.
- Use a website like RocketLawyer to find a legitimate legal form that pertains to your state’s laws and regulations about subletting.
- You may want to collect a security deposit from your subtenant to cover any damages they may cause to the property. Otherwise, the costs will come out of your own damage deposit since you’re still liable for the property.
- Take photos of the space prior to the sublease to establish the condition of the apartment or house before they move in. This will give you substantial proof if they try to refute your claims of damage done while they were living there.
- Before you take off, make sure the subtenant has an easy way to contact you, the landlord, and maintenance if any issues arise in the future.
4. Move Out
Now you’re all set to move out! If you’re subleasing your apartment so you can move to a new city or study abroad, you may need a place to store your belongings either for a short or long period of time. If nobody you know has enough space to put up with all of your things, a storage unit is a great solution when you need to stow personal belongings during a sublease arrangement.
Even if you plan to return to your apartment, you’ll need to clear your personal belongings out of the space for a temporary amount of time for the new tenant. With flexible leases and affordable monthly rates, self storage can give you the ability to manage your household items when you sublet your apartment.
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