Subleasing your apartment is a gamble. If your tenant fails to pay his rent or damages the unit, you're the one legally responsible to your landlord, so be smart. You first must get permission from your landlord to sublet the apartment to someone else. Once you have that, conduct a background check on anyone asking to sublet your rental, just as if you were the landlord. Next, write a sublet lease that covers all of the important terms and details.
Your apartment sublet lease should spell out the monthly payment, when it's due, where the payment should be made and to whom. If the sublessee is to pay the power and water bills, put that in the lease too. The agreement should also say how much damage deposit, if any, you require.
Include any rules or restrictions in the agreement that you want your sub-tenant to follow. If you don't want him inviting a half-dozen of his friends to share the apartment for a month, spell out how long people can stay and how many people he can have over at once. Write the landlord's important rules into the agreement as well. If you can't keep pets, make it clear your sub-tenant can't do that either. Spell out what happens if he or his guests damage the common areas.
Be specific when it comes to penalties for late payments, damages or other issues. For example, if rent is due on the 1st of the month and the tenant pays a week late, the sublet lease should include the exact monetary penalty the tenant will have to pay, whether it's a straight fee such as $25 or a percentage of the rent. Spell out when eviction proceedings can begin if the tenant falls way behind on the rent. Include details about the tenant's fiscal responsibility should she leave the apartment damaged and in poor condition.
Be sure that you follow all state and local laws when you write out your agreement. If you sublease a rent-controlled apartment, for example, you might not be able to charge your tenant more than your current rent. State law also covers your rights to have a sublease at all. Some states guarantee your subletting rights no matter what your lease says. Other states say the landlord can forbid subletting, or allow it on a case-by-case basis.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.