One of the most difficult situations you may find yourself in is having to move while you are living in a rental property. If you are lucky, the move will occur right near the end of your lease and you can wait it out. More often than not, however, you will not have the time to wait. In these cases, it would not make sense to keep paying for a home you are no longer living in, which is why you should consider subletting your rental property.
Subletting your rented property allows you to lease out the property to someone else. It is important to note that your original lease will still be in effect with your landlord. If something happens with whoever is subleasing your property, you may still be responsible, even if you are living thousands of miles away from the property. Subletting your apartment may initially seem like a very complicated procedure, but it is actually quite easy to approach if you take it one step at a time.
Acquiring Permission From Your Landlord
If you are planning on subletting your rented property, the first step you must take is to speak with your landlord. Even if you are convinced your landlord will not mind, you should speak with him or her about your intentions. If you sublet your rented property without first getting permission from your landlord, he or she can accuse of you breaking your lease, which may have legal consequences.
Some landlords are not comfortable with someone subletting their property. In some situations, your original lease may even mention you are not allowed to sublease the property. In these situations, the best you can hope for is your landlord is willing to renegotiate your initial lease. However, depending on your circumstances, you may have more luck ending your lease early in this situation, as opposed to convincing your landlord to allow a sublet tenant.
If your landlord has no problems with you subletting your apartment, you should acquire written permission. Acquiring written permission creates a visible paper trail, which is important if there are ever any legal issues regarding the rented property.
When you are speaking with your landlord, you should also ask for an original copy of the agreement you signed. You should share this lease with whoever is subletting your property, just so he or she is aware of everything included in the original agreement, as well as expectations for living in the apartment.
When asking permission, you should also give your landlord the opportunity to become more involved in the deal if he or she wishes. Some landlords will not have any issues with you subletting your apartment and may even be willing to create a new lease for you and your subtenant.
Understand the Responsibility
If you decide to sublet your rented property, you are not considered the landlord. Whoever is subleasing the property is not considered a traditional tenant, either. Any agreement you initially made with your landlord is still in effect. The most important part of this agreement has to do with getting your security deposit back. If the person who is subleasing your rented property causes damage to the property while you are gone, you are legally the one who is responsible for making the payment. If the subtenant skips out on a payment, your landlord will go after you for the missed payments.
One of the most important changes to consider when subletting is your insurance situation. Your subtenant does not qualify as a roommate, nor can he or she use your existing renter’s insurance policy. In addition, any liability coverage you originally secured with your landlord will only apply to you and your landlord. For a small fee, your landlord may be willing to add your subtenant as well, but he or she is not required to accommodate your subtenant.
Picking the Right Person
Once you understand the relationship and have permission from your landlord, the next step is to pick someone to sublet your rented property. Choosing someone to sublet your apartment is similar to choosing a roommate. Since you are still responsible for what happens with the property, it is very important to pick someone you can trust. If you are planning to sublet, you should always start looking for potential subtenants from people you already know.
If you are unable to find a subtenant you are familiar with, you must run a very strict screening process. If you have never screened someone before, you should consult your landlord for advice. You should perform the same screening your landlord performed on you. A thorough screening includes a credit check, speaking with past landlords and verifying the subtenant’s income.
You should also ask some basic questions of your possible subtenant. Some of the questions you should ask include:
- Where do you currently work?
- Why are you looking for short-term housing?
- Will anyone else live with you?
- Do you have any pets?
- Will you plan on frequently having guests over?
If you are worried about your subtenant bringing in anyone who might damage the property, you may want to consider a different subtenant.
Setting a Fair Price
It may seem tempting, but you should not try and charge more for your subtenant’s rent than you are currently paying. In some cities, such as New York and San Francisco, there are laws in place to keep you from charging your subtenant more for rent than your current lease agreement. In addition, if you charge your subtenant too much money, or he or she discovers he or she is paying more for rent than you are, there is the possibility he or she will leave the property early. If this happens, you are responsible for finding a new subtenant, which is significantly harder if you are already out of the state.
Once you have found a suitable subtenant who agrees to your price, you should sign a written agreement with him or her. If you have never drafted a written agreement before, you should consult the lease you originally signed with your landlord and use that document as a basis. Keep in mind that the written agreement will only give you so much protection. Having a written contract with your subtenant does not invalidate your existing lease with your landlord. However, it will show you your chosen subtenant is willing to accept responsibility and is serious about subletting your apartment.