If you're relocating or just in town for a brief period, finding a room for rent vs. signing a full-year lease is probably the right move for you. You can save money and be close to where you want to live.
It's also a good option if you have bad credit, you can still find an excellent place to live while getting your bearings. Or if you travel often, it may not be worth it to have a whole place to yourself. Whatever the reason, subletting can ease the burden on your wallet and on your mind as demand for housing is so high.
But just like any other rental situation, it's important to stay aware of potential scams. Here's how to safely find a room for rent in your city.
Is subletting a room for you?
Renting just a room is an excellent option for those that only require a spot to sleep at night or travel a lot, for example. But subletting a room for rent functions a little different than leasing an apartment directly from the complex or landlord.
When you sublet a room from someone, it's often from the leaseholder. They list an extra room for rent, usually a roommate set up with your bathroom. Agreements are often month-to-month to allow for flexibility of terms.
While some agreements are verbal, it's essential to get things in writing, as many scams will use this method to steal security deposits or rent payments. Some units will require first and last-month payments plus a security deposit. However, most don't since the leaseholder already covered those payments under the master lease.
Take into consideration your privacy as you will be sharing communal areas with others in a roommate setup. Think about your must-haves like private bathroom, furnished or unfurnished; how many roommates are you comfortable with; whether it's pet-friendly and other factors to make your search seamless.
Get all details in writing
Decide how long you want the terms to last. Many of those interested in room renting are there short-term until they save up enough to find a one-bedroom apartment or build up their credit.
Often your prospective roommate will just do a handshake agreement but offer a sublease agreement if they don't. A sublease agreement is similar to a standard lease but signed by you, the sublessor, and the actual landlord. This provides complete transparency to the landlord, too.
Often complexes don't allow subleases, and you could face unexpected eviction. This agreement will also cover you for any damages that occurred before your arrival. You will also have rent and utility payment terms in writing along with your timeline for the room. Utilities, for example, are usually included in the rent as a flat fee.
Understand your tenant rights
The sublessee does not have as many rights as the actual tenant of the unit. This is why a sublessee agreement is necessary in these cases.
Ask the tenant to show you the master lease before agreeing to anything. It's essential to confirm that both the landlord and existing roommates are OK with this arrangement. For example, even if your agreement says you can sue the landlord, the courts often go by the master lease. If the master lease says you can't, that's the final word.
Know if you're considered a tenant or a boarder in your state. Georgia, for example, considers a tenant the person who pays rent; a boarder is someone who pays a fee for the right to use a room for a short period. If you're considered a boarder, you have minimal protection by the law.
If you pay weekly, the tenant only needs to give you a one-week notice to leave the premises. If the boarder has violated any rules, they can face eviction immediately with no warning.
Your rights will depend exclusively on your location and the type of written agreement with the sublessor.
Use social media to find a trustworthy match
The best way to find a room for you is by reaching out to friends, co-workers and family first. Anyone referred by someone you know adds an extra layer of safety. Post on Facebook and Instagram with your must-haves and have them reach out.
As any other roommate match, make sure that you talk about habits and work schedules to ensure that you'll both thrive in this sublease. If you have a pet, agree to terms and pet rent, if needed.
Always look at the room before you sign anything or transfer any money. Room renters are easy subjects for scams as you rely on a third party for all terms but always trust your intuition. Pay attention to pricing and make sure it's on par with the neighborhood.
Once you have tapped into your network, start by searching on Rent.com for rooms for rent. Craigslist may lead to some gems but beware of scams. University housing forums and startups like PadSplit offer rooms for rent as well.
You can view rooms for rent in the top 10 rental markets below:
- New York rooms for rent
- Los Angeles rooms for rent
- Chicago rooms for rent
- Philadelphia rooms for rent
- San Francisco rooms for rent
- Austin rooms for rent
- Seattle rooms for rent
- Denver rooms for rent
- Boston rooms for rent
- Washington, D.C. rooms for rent
Find a room for rent
Finding a room for rent is stressful. No matter your circumstances. But if you tap into your network through work and social media, you can find a good, trustworthy fit that allows you to save money and have a spot to crash.
Just make sure, as with any other financial exchange, that you protect yourself with an agreement, keep payment receipts and do a gut check. It's always best to double-check everything.