Subletting can give you the chance to get out from under the boot of a nasty landlord without losing your deposit. If you're planning to study abroad or go on an extended trip, subletting will help cover your rent while you're gone and ensure your apartment is ready for you when you get back. But you can't just give your apartment to another person and hope that all ends well. Following a few basic rules of subletting can help you avoid legal trouble and protect you from costly damages to your apartment.
Review your lease to determine if you're allowed to sublet your apartment. Some leases completely ban subletting, while others require the landlord's permission. Ask your landlord in writing if you can sublet your apartment, and if he agrees get him to confirm it in writing. Doing so can keep you out of trouble if your landlord decides to go back on his agreement when the new tenant moves in.
Interview prospective candidates who might be interested in subletting your apartment. Whether you're renting to a friend or stranger, do a credit check and ask for references. You don't want a tenant who has a long history of trashing buildings or skipping out without paying rent. Ensure that the tenant you choose knows how long the sublease will last.
Draft a lease agreement with your tenant. This agreement should address the cost of rent, who is responsible for damages to the apartment, any rules and regulations for renting and the duration of the lease. Get a deposit from your tenant. In most states, you'll be liable for the damages of a person to whom you sublet your apartment, so you'll need a deposit in case the tenant abandons the property or does significant damage.
Make it easy for your tenant to pay rent. If he's paying directly to the landlord, provide him with all the necessary payment information. If he's paying you, arrange for him to set up an auto draft or allow him to pay through an online payment processor. Collect payment a few days before your own rent is due so that you're not stuck covering rent out of pocket while you wait for your tenant's check to arrive.
- Renter's insurance can protect you if the new tenant causes damage to the property.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.