Sublet 101: What to Know as a Subletter

Renting a sublet apartment is perfect if you need a place to stay for a medium length of time, want to live somewhere for an extended vacation or need a place for the summer in between college semesters. As a subletter, you can really benefit from the situation and help the original renter out, but there are some things you should do to protect yourself, just as if you were the original renter.

Confirm that the original landlord is OK with subletting the apartment. Many landlords do not allow it, yet some renters try to get away with it. If you are subletting illegally and are discovered, you will be kicked out of the apartment immediately, no matter what the original renter told you. Protect yourself from this unfortunate sublet mistake by getting a guarantee that it's OK to sublet.

When you sublet an apartment from someone, make sure there is a written contract. It's the best way to protect yourself in terms of finalizing what is agreed upon between you and the original renter. Such issues like rent amount, security deposit, rent due day, utility responsibility and even the move out date should be included in the contract. Other details on proper use of the apartment should be clarified as well, including issues like pets, parking, roommates, procedure for landlord repairs and even who pays for what damages. Get a signed copy for your own records.

Work out the details of the sublet to your advantage. Usually a renter will not want to change the utility information into your name, since your stay is temporary. Whether the renter wants you to pay the utilities directly or send utility money to them is something to discuss. Some utilities can easily be changed in name only, so the renter may ask you to take on the utility during your time at the rental.

Depending on the rental market in the area, you may be able to negotiate some attractive incentives. If the renter is eager to sublet and renters are hard to come by, ask about waiving the utility bills or giving you one month of free rent. Also, if you can pay for several months of rent up front, ask for a rent discount as well.

Before you move in, walk through the apartment with the renter and write up an apartment checklist. This checklist documents the condition of the apartment before you moved in and records every ding, scratch and broken appliance. That way, when you move out, you both can assess what, if any, damages for which you are responsible.

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