Should I Think About Subletting My Place?
Understanding the risks of subletting can help you decide if this is the best option for you.
Subletting is a great way to maintain your apartment, condo, or house while you’re going to be away for an extended time period. Many members of the military end up subletting during their deployment, and it may also be a good option for college students who want to study abroad or go home for the summer but need to maintain their apartment near their college as well.
But before you hand over your keys, it’s a good idea to do your research and understand all the potential risks involved.
Will my landlord or leasing agent allow me to sublet?
This is the first question you should ask. If you don’t currently own the property, subletting may come down to whether or not you’re legally allowed. Check your lease agreement and talk to your landlord. If you’re allowed to sublet, it may be best to have them do the heavy lifting. A lot of landlords prefer for the subletting process to go through them — that way they can legally take control over the process, and you won’t be held liable.
Sublet to someone you know.
When possible, it’s always best to sublet to someone you know, or even an acquaintance. Ask friends and family for referrals and tell them to help spread the word. Having some familiarity with the person who will be inhabiting your space for months at a time not only gives you more peace of mind, but it’s inherently less of a risk.
Do your research on potential candidates and ask them questions about their lifestyle habits, income, and pets. If you sense something is off, trust your gut. They should be a good fit for you and your expectations, so make those clear from the start. Are they responsible for paying utilities or will you cover that? Who maintains the landscaping (if needed)? Consider outlining a list of non-negotiables: no smoking, no loud parties, no fire hazards, etc., and then cover that list with them and gauge their reaction. Having a reliable and respectful tenant you can trust relieves so much stress from the subletting situation.
Check in when you can.
Stay in frequent communication with them. This conveys the fact that you genuinely care for them, as well as the rental. Ask them how they’re doing, if they’re experiencing any issues, or if the space needs any repairs or updates. It’s a great reminder that the space is still yours and you still have an investment in it.
Can I suspend my renters insurance if I’m leaving for a while?
If you maintain a current renters insurance policy on your apartment, condo or rent house (and let’s be honest, you should), it might be worth reaching out to your agent to see what the pros and cons are of suspending your policy while you sublet. Every carrier is different, and many of the regulations vary from state to state. However — if you keep your furniture and/or some belongings within the space, you might consider maintaining your renters insurance. If you sublet frequently, there are insurance options that act more like a landlord’s policy that might work better for your situation. The best advice? Check with your agent for solid answers to your specific situation.
Lock up any valuables.
This usually goes unsaid, but removing your valuables and packing up sensitive documents should be handled before you sublet. If you’re leaving behind any furniture, just know that it’s at the mercy of the tenant for the period of use.
Before you say yes…
You’re almost there — you’ve found the perfect person to sublet your place, but there’s one last thing you should require of them before you make it official. Asking them to provide proof of their own renters insurance policy is a great way to make sure they are a responsible tenant. This ensures that their own belongings are covered, and you won’t be held liable.
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