Finding a Subletter: How to Sublet an Apartment in 5 Easy Steps
If you’re a renter and you need to move out of your apartment, it’s time to find a subletter.
Like everything, there’s a right way and a wrong way to sublet. As a property management company for over 35 years, we’ve seen plenty of our residents do it the wrong way. And that’s no fun, in terms of stress and financial pain.
We’ve also seen many renters do it the right way. If you know the steps, you can sublet your place, without losing your shirt financially and avoiding any problems.
This post will focus on finding the right subletter, legal issues and marketing your apartment.
Here are five easy steps on how to sublet an apartment the right way; follow them and you should find success:
- Step One: How Does Subletting Work?
- Step Two: Understand Your Legal Responsibilities
- Bonus Content – Infographic: How to Sublet to a Pro Wrestler in Five Easy Steps
- Step Three: How to Find a Subletter
- Step Four: Screen Your Subletting Prospects
- Step Five: Have Your Subletter Sign the Rental Agreement
We’ve summed everything up in this video. Be sure to also check out our infographic “Sublet Your Apartment to a Professional Wrestler in 5 Easy Steps.” (See below.)
How Does Subletting Work?
Check With Your Property Owner
Essentially, when you’re subletting an apartment, you’re having a subletter move into your apartment and take over either all or part of your rent payments.
Understand Your Legal Responsibilities
There’s a lot of legal things you need to know when you sublet your place. The biggest of them all: YOU ARE THE ONE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE APARTMENT.
Not the subletter. You. Even though you’re subletting and you’ve moved out of the rental, it’s still your apartment. You’re the one responsible for everything associated with it, especially the following items:
Keys: Your subletter will need keys to the apartment, but you are the one responsible for returning the keys to your landlord. Make sure you and the subletter plan on how you are going to return the keys to your landlord.
Utilities: Payment of utilities should be negotiated with your subletter and stated in your rental agreement. If you’re going to pay the utilities instead of your subletter, notify either your utility company or your landlord. If your renter is going to foot the bill, ask them to make the proper arrangements with the utility company (and be sure to make the utility aware of the new subletter).
Security Deposit: Your original security deposit will likely remain with your landlord. It’s entirely up to you whether or not you request a private security deposit from your subletter, but we recommend it. We’d recommend asking for half a month’s rent for a security deposit.
Damages: You’re responsible for any damages a subletter causes to your apartment. Ask a subletter to complete an inspection form when he or she is moving in, so you can prove any damages.
Roommates: If you currently have roommates, ask them to sign a written consent form indicating that it’s OK for a subletter to rent the space. It’s typically not required, but a good idea. If you have an individual lease, it’s likely you don’t need permission from your roommates.
How to sublease to a pro wrestler in 5 easy steps
We interrupt this blog post by including our infographic on how to sublease to a pro wrestler!
How to find a subletter
Now it’s time to bring in the prospective subletters. Start by identifying the person who would be your ideal subletter, then use the marketing and advertising tactics we’ve listed here.
Identify the Ideal Subletter
Think about the kind of person you’d want living in your apartment. A student? A young professional? Write down two or three types of people who fit your description, so when the prospects come for a visit, you know what you’re looking for.
(Note that you should be aware of fair housing laws: You can’t discriminate. Here’s a link to Wisconsin’s Fair Housing Laws.)
Also ask your property manager what they look for in a resident. Your property manager is an expert in judging a prospect’s character. Ask them the qualities they look for in a responsible renter. Use them to scrutinize your prospects.
Now that you’ve identified the ideal subletter, create three key selling points that would appeal to them. What is it that makes your apartment special? Easy access to the campus? Great kitchen? Nice neighborhood?
Once you’ve established these selling points, you can use them to market your place!
Get the Word Out!
The key to subletting your apartment is activity. The more of these marketing efforts you put into play, and the more consistent you are with doing them, the faster you’ll sublet your apartment.
Start Early: If you know you’re leaving for the summer, begin an aggressive search for a subletter today. At Lucky, one of our campus-based apartment communities, we have over 850 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.
Use Your Property’s Marketing Capabilities: It’s likely that your property manager already established successful marketing channels for renting apartments, and perhaps they’ll even advertise your apartment as a courtesy. At the very least, they can point you in the right direction.
Retrace Your Rental Steps: How did you find your apartment? Was it an ad? Word of mouth? Retrace your steps, and pinpoint what it was that caught your eye. If it’s cost-effective, this might be the way to alert people that you’re looking for a subletter.
Where to Post Sublet Ads: Social media like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is a great way to publicize your apartment. Get your friends and family to help spread the word about your place. Here are some examples per network.
- Facebook: Create a detailed apartment description, and then post it on Facebook. Incentivize your friends to help you rent the space; tell them if one of their buddies claims the apartment, you’ll buy them dinner or take them out on the town. You can also use existing pages to post your sublet, like the UW Sublet and Roommate Posting Board.
- Twitter and Instagram: Use your Twitter or Instagram account to link to an online posting (on Craigslist or your property owners). Search for #subletting hashtags here in Madison. Here’s a perfect example:
Ask Your Roommates to Spread the Word: Use your roommates’ network to advertise the space–it’s a good bet they’ll also be happier with the subletter this way.
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. If you know someone at a state school that’s close to yours, ask them if they can get the word out to their friends and classmates.
How to Sublet an Apartment on Craigslist
A great resource for advertising a sublet is Craigslist. It’s free and very targeted. Here’s an article on how to write a great Craigslist ad. Our tips include the following:
- In the title, call out the three key selling points you identified earlier
- Include when the apartment is available in the title
- List the apartment’s best feature first. Then list the rest of the apartment features, followed by community features.
- Provide your contact information.
- Upload photos for the ad. This is critical for a rental. And the photos don’t have to be your own; your rental agency may be able to provide you with some professional shots that they use in their materials.
- Post and then repost every two days. Most people search listings from the top down, so you need to repost it to ensure you appear at the top of the listing.
Here’s an example of a Steve Brown Apartments Craigslist ad that follows these rules.
One special note about Craigslist: There are a number of well-documented scams associated with this service. Be sure to review this list before you use the service.
Appeal to transfers: The UW admits around 2,000 transfer students annually. You can expect hundreds of new students in January – these folks are looking for a place to live! While buying a mailing or email list with their names may be cost-prohibitive, you can refer to transfer students in your ads or flyers (example headline: “Looking for a Short-Term Lease?”).
Go Guerilla: Guerilla marketing is about hustling and making personal contacts. It also involves creative ways to market. For example, print a flyer with apartment details, then pass it out at the Memorial Union or after class in a big lecture hall.
Use Your Email Contacts: Look at your contact book for your emails, or pour through old emails. Create a list of people and send out a notice of your place, including a description and a picture.
SUBLETTING AN APARTMENT BONUS TIPS: 5 Ways to Attract a Last-Minute Subletter
1. Lower the rent: When it comes to subletting, price is king. If you’re in a crunch, pay some of the rent yourself to lower the price.
2. Pay for utilities: Paying separate utility bills on top of rent can be a deterrent to subletters. Consider factoring the cost of utilities into your fixed rent price and pay the bill yourself.
3. Leave the apartment partially furnished: Advertising your sublet as pre-furnished will earn major brownie points in the eyes of a subletter.
4. Mention your freebies: Advertise anything free that’s included with your unit or within the apartment complex, such as community and fitness centers.
5. Include the perks: Mention everything that is convenient and attractive about your unit. Include nearby bus lines, grocery stores and entertainment – anything and everything that might have some appeal.
Screen your subletting prospects
Your marketing has paid off bigtime! You’ve got people calling, and it’s time to start showing the apartment.
A Word of Caution: Criminals have posed as subletters before – hoping to gain access to a person’s apartment. Ask a roommate to be at the apartment during the showing, or invite a friend over. Avoid showing it by yourself.
After you’ve shown the apartment, you’ll likely have a few prospects. Let’s find out who is truly the perfect match. Here is a simple screening process that will help the cream rise to the top:
1. Run a credit and background check: Running a credit check to see if they can pay the rent is a good idea, as well as a background check through CCAP.
2. Ask for references: Why not? Your cash is on the line. Ask for personal references so you can judge their credibility.
3. Check with the roommates: If you have roomies, get their two cents on the subletter. They’ll hate you for life if you sublet to a jerk, so get some consensus.
4. Inquire about their renting history: If it’s their first time living alone, be careful. Conversely, a person who rented from the same landlord for the previous three years is probably a good bet.
Have your subletter sign the rental agreement
Remember the subletter application form from Step One? Now it’s time to get your subletter’s signature and iron out any details of the subletting arrangement, including how long the sublet will last and how much each party will pay.
Refer back to Step Two, where we detailed the legal issues you’ll need to consider. Once you have the financial and logistical details set, sign the agreement and provide a copy to your subletter and your landlord.
Congratulations! You’ve just subletted your apartment!
A few miscellaneous tips moving forward:
- Keep tabs on your subletter and your rental agency: Once your subletter is in, that doesn’t mean you’re out. Stay in touch with your landlord and your subletter to ensure the apartment stays in great shape and there are no surprises at move-out time.
- Show up on the move-out date: Try and structure your agreement so that your subletter has to move out the day before the lease terminates. Then make it a point to check out the apartment after they move out, or send a friend in to do it for you.
- Discontinue your cable: Are you currently paying for cable or Internet? Don’t forget to let your provider know you’re moving out, otherwise your subletter gets a screaming deal!
- Take care of utilities: Remember to notify your utility and your property manager regarding who will pay the utilities bill – either you or your subletter (see the Legal Responsibilities section in this guide).
If you’d like to advertise your sublet, be sure to join our Facebook Group for sublets in Madison, WI. It’s a great place to market your place!
For a downloadable guide on everything we’ve explained in this post, click below to get our free Subletter Guide.