Subletting Your Apartment: A How-to Guide

You've finally landed the job of your dreams, doing the work you've always dreamed of doing for a great salary and amazing benefits. It would be the perfect if it weren't 200 miles away and if you didn't have a lease for the next six months. But wait: You could always sublet your apartment! Subletting has its risks, but if done properly it will be possible to move out early without breaking your lease. Here are the steps you need to follow to make subletting your apartment a success.

Get your landlord’s permission

  • Read your lease to determine your subletting rights. If your landlord profusely forbids it, try to explain your situation in writing and negotiate a solution. You can offer to help your landlord find a new renter, although you are still responsible for the rent until a new lease is signed.
  • If subletting is permitted, get your landlord’s permission in writing before moving on to the next step.

Find a trust-worthy leaser

  • Ask around your circle of friends and co-workers first. If you don’t get a response, try posting an advertisement on Craigslist or other community websites.
  • Describe your apartment and the dates that it will be available along with your contact information. You can try to advertise for the same rent you are paying but may have to reduce the rate if you are limited on time.
  • Interview interested people. You will still be responsible for the lease so you need to make sure the person who moves in will pay rent on time and keep the apartment well-maintained.

Here are some questions to ask a potential subletter:

  • Where are you employed and what is your monthly after-tax income?
  • Why are you seeking short-term housing?
  • How many people will be living the apartment? Any children? Any pets?
  • Do you plan on having any social events or guests staying at the apartment?

Give the best potential sublet candidates a tour of the apartment. Answer their questions as honestly as possible and be candid about any problems. You don’t want the subletter to back out in a month or two since you will be left to fill in the rent.

Sign a written agreement

  • Even if you were lucky enough to have a friend to take over your lease, you still need to have a written agreement. You can make one yourself but unless you’re a lawyer, this is not advisable. The Internet Legal Research Group has a sublet form for every state. Print out the form for your state here. A professionally formatted version of the form is available for a fee.
  • If it's not mentioned in the agreement, you need to add in a statement regarding the security deposit. Since your landlord is most likely not required to return it to you until the lease is over, you will need to come to an agreement over it. For example, if the subletter puts a hole in the wall are they responsible for the security deposit? If you don’t address it the money will surely come out of your pocket.
  • Depending on the terms in your lease and state laws, you may have tenant’s rights over the subletter. This means you can evict the person if they do not pay rent or in any other way violate the terms of the written agreement. Explain this to the subletter so that there is no confusion later.
  • Make sure the subletter is clear on when he/she can move in and leave them a way to contact you as well as the owner of the apartment. Leave an emergency maintenance number as well as the place where the rent should be delivered.

This post was updated January 4, 2016. 

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