How to Sublet Your Room and Not Burn Your Roommates
It’s time we focused on those left behind when you’re subletting your room: Your poor, deserted roommate. Generally, these situations work out fine, but here are some steps to ensure the new roommate arrangement works – for the benefit of all involved.
Subletting can be tough on those left behind. While you’re heading off to a foreign country or a new job, your roommate(s) are left sharing the apartment with your newfound subletter.
Put yourself in their shoes: Your roommate envisions the worst. You’re going to sublet to someone who sells drugs or has horrible body odor. Or maybe you’ll get someone who doesn’t do dishes, doesn’t clean, and doesn’t care. There are a myriad of things that could go wrong.
Fortunately, there are many legal processes – and good business practices by astute property owners – to ensure things go right.
At Steve Brown Apartments, for example, it’s our policy that everyone on a lease agrees to the new subletter. That means that if the roommates left behind object to the subletter you’ve chosen, the deal doesn’t go down.
We also insist that a sublet agreement form be filled out, so that the financial terms of the sublet are clear. So what can you do to ensure your subletter is a good fit for the roommate left behind?
And perhaps more importantly, how will you benefit (or at least, not be burned) by a good arrangement? To answer that, let’s make it clear whose tail is truly on the line: Yours.
Find a Great Subletter to Protect Yourself
The most important thing to remember is that you are the one that’s responsible for the subletter. If your subletter trashes your apartment, loses a key, or doesn’t pay rent, you are the one the property owner will hold responsible.
This is always an eye-opening tidbit of information for first-time subletters. It’s also a wake-up call that you want to find a high-quality, responsible subletter for your apartment – otherwise, you could be the one who pays for it in the long run. With that in mind, here are some key tips:
- Start looking early. We can’t emphasize this enough: If you know you’re leaving for the summer, begin an aggressive search for a subletter today. In the Lucky Apartments, we have over 900 residents, and we often wind up with approximately 100 subletters during the summer. The competition to find a quality subletter can be fierce, so don’t delay the process.
- Enlist your current roommate to help with the search. It makes perfect sense to have your roommate find a friend of their own to take over your lease, so get them involved as soon as possible. Use your social networks to send out the message that you’re in the hunt for a subletter.
- Look for connections at other state schools. We find most of our May subletters are Madison natives returning from their respective colleges for the summer. They don’t want to live with their parents, so they opt for a sublet. If you know someone at a state school like UW-La Crosse or UW-Eau Claire, ask them if they can get the word out to their friends and classmates.
- Vet prospects thoroughly. Once you have a few prospects lined up, get connected with them on their social media accounts. Review their posts. You can tell a lot about a person based on what they’ve been sharing with the world. Remember, race, gender, disabilities, etc. can’t preclude you from renting to someone. Make sure you’re abiding by fair housing laws as you target your ideal subletter
Also visit the website for Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, otherwise known as CCAP. It provides access to foreclosures, background checks, criminal and civil matters, sentencing data, and judgments. Besides a credit report (which you can ask for as well), it’s helpful when researcher a potential subletter you don’t know. (It could also help with someone you do know!)
- Set up introductory meeting with subletter and roommate. Have a meeting for an hour or so between your subletter and your roommate. Share some rules of the house, ask some background questions and generally engage in conversation. You should get a sense of whom you’re dealing with.
- Use smart subletting procedures as a vetting process. We require a sublet agreement between renters and subletters, as well as written approval with fellow roommates. Signing these simple agreements should be enough to scare off unsavory characters.
Asking for a security deposit will also give you an indication of the type of subletter you’re dealing with. We say you’re doing well if you get 75% of your rent from a subletter, but you should also ask for half a month’s rent for a security deposit. A responsible renter should have no problem with that.
Be sure to also review our previous posts on subletting. Remember, when you find a subletter that your roommate likes and can live with, it has enormous benefits to you as well. But don’t delay. The rush is already on to find quality subletters for the summer.
Get started on finding an ideal subletter NOW. Your roommate will thank you for it.
Published on Mar 13 2014
Last Updated on Aug 26 2022