Subletting Your Student Apartment the Right Way

When going home for summer break, you want to be sure you’ll have a roof over your head when you get back to school. Subletting your student apartment sounds awesome, and could really help your finances. (Maybe you wouldn’t even have to take a gnarly summer job!) But you can’t be chill about it; it’s pretty serious stuff. Here’s the lowdown on finding a temporary tenant for your student apartments each time you leave for the summer, and how to stay out of trouble.

Will your lease allow a sublet?
The first thing to do is check your lease. See if it states anything specific regarding subletting. If your lease directly states that no subletting is permitted, it's a moot point. You cannot do it; you and your landlord signed a contract agreeing to those terms. However, if the lease does not mention subletting terms, respectfully ask your landlord if a sublet would be permissible.

The Landlord says NO: should you risk it anyway?
Many leases have strict rules on 'unauthorized occupants,’ like someone living in the dwelling who’s not authorized to live there. Since your name is on the lease, you would initially receive a 5-day notice to have the unauthorized occupant move out, or the landlord could begin the eviction process. The end result could be your not having a home to come back to, an eviction on your record, possible issues regaining your belongings, and difficulty securing a new apartment.

Landlords have ways of knowing what’s going on at their property. It’s never a good idea to try and pull a fast one on them. You do NOT want an eviction on your record; it will hamper you for years to come. Make sure subletting your student apartment doesn't create short-term gain but long-term nightmares.

The Landlord says YES: now what's next?
If you already have a sub-tenant in mind, that person would need to qualify just like you did when you applied. You are not relieved of your tenant responsibilities. You are actually taking on more risk and responsibility, since you are ultimately responsible for the sub-tenant as well as his or her behavior and how the apartment is cared for. Any damages, unpaid rent, or lease violations would fall on you.

You’ll need to go through a organized, unbiased process to vet any and all potential subletters. Your job is to make sure they’re not putting your good name, your deposit, your credit report or your future at risk. Use these tips to find a good candidate.

Steps to Ensure a Smooth Transition
If you’re allowed to sublet and you decide to go for it, here are a few tips to make sure the transition to another tenant and then back to you again goes smoothly.

  1. The Contract
    You have a contract with the landlord, now you need a contract with the subleasing tenant. Don't be casual about this: a handshake or verbal agreement is not enough. In many states, renting or subletting without a contract leaves you and the person you're subletting from with no rights.
  2. Let a Trusted Neighbor Know
    Tell a trusted neighbor you’ve sublet, and encourage them to let you know if there are any problems out of the ordinary.
  3. Do Move-In / Move-Out Inspections
    Prior to the new tenant moving in, take pictures of all your belongings, the walls, doors, rooms in general. Return to your apartment prior to the move date to inspect, and on the move-out day as well. That way if there is any damage or stolen property, you have proof. Be sure you have plenty of contact info for your tenant.

When done correctly, subletting your student apartment can be a great opportunity to keep your rent paid and not have to let go of an apartment you like. If you’re in college, you won't have to start your semester with looking for a new home. Just take these tips seriously, and sublet the right way.

See Also: College students, be wary of rental scams

See Also: (Quiz) Where should you move after graduation?

Bekah SteenbockBekah Steenbock is a freelance writer with a background in real estate and business growth. She is a native Austinite, but has called Seattle, Mankato,Milwaukee, Las Vegas and Atlanta home. Bekah, her husband and their three children love exploring the outdoors in their spare time.

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