Room for Rent

Tips for successfully subletting your apartment

You’re in a pickle. You need to move out of your apartment months before your lease expires. Maybe you scored a new job in a different city. Or a family emergency came up and you need to move back in with your folks. Whatever your motivation for checking out of your apartment early, you’re anxious to find someone to take your place.

We get it. We’ve been there.

When you sublet your apartment, you’re renting out your living space to another party for a pre-determined amount of time. If this sounds a bit risky to you, that’s because it is. Think about it – you’re essentially relying on someone else to take care your apartment. Under most sublet agreements, the original resident remains on the lease and is on the hook for any damages or missed payments. That would be you.

That sounds scary, but sublets go off without a hitch all the time. Yours can, too – as long as you approach the situation with caution. Here are some tips for successfully subletting your apartment and staying in your landlord’s good graces.

  Read your lease

Not every landlord manages subletting the same way. If there isn’t a clause specifically about subletting laid out in in your lease, send a certified letter to your landlord requesting permission to sublet your apartment at least 30 days prior to your departure.

  Get the word out

Assuming your landlord approves of your request to sublet, it’s time to spread the word like wildfire. Ask friends and coworkers if they know of anyone looking for a place to live. Notify your social channels. And post an ad on Craigslist.

  Consider an incentive

If you’re having a hard time subletting your apartment, consider sweetening the deal with an incentive. Offer to pay for utilities, throw in a free parking space, or even cover the first month’s rent to give yourself an edge over the competition.

  Interview your candidates

If you receive multiple inquiries about your sublet, you’ll want to conduct a series of interviews to find the best fit. Meeting with candidates face-to-face is ideal, but if this isn’t possible you can arrange a video chat to get a feel for each person’s character.

  Ask for a security deposit

Even if you think you’ve chosen an ultra-responsible subtenant to take over your lease, it’s a good idea to collect a security deposit in case something goes wrong. Be sure to take photos of the apartment before he or she moves in and do a final walk-through before you part ways.

Trusting a total stranger with your apartment is always a risk – regardless of how responsible the person may seem. But by clearing the situation with your landlord and taking the proper actions to protect yourself, you’ll be in good shape to break free of your lease and move forward worry-free.

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Kate Kasbee
Kate Kasbee is a blogger and freelance copywriter living in Los Angeles. She has a background in real estate marketing and has also written about a variety of subjects including pet care, how to adopt a vegan diet, and technology. Prior to living in sunny California, Kate spent eight years in Chicago where she lived in nine different apartments in five different neighborhoods. Though she’s not quite done exploring, Kate dreams of planting her roots and owning a home with creaky floors and plenty of land for starting an organic farm.
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