Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Subletting
If you need to move out before your lease is over, subleasing your apartment to someone else is a great way to save money without breaking your lease. Entering into a sublease agreement is sometimes the easiest way to solve several short-term problems if you need to move out early. However, subletting must be taken seriously. If they are not handled correctly, subleases can lead to a multitude of legal and personal problems.
Even though there is a lot that can go wrong with a sublease, it is possible to have a perfectly legal and satisfactory sublease contract that meets everyone’s needs. Learning the dos and don’ts of subleasing ahead of time can prevent countless headaches in the future. Discover the top 10 mistakes renters make when subletting an apartment and how to avoid them.
1. Not Telling the Landlord
Subleasing your apartment without telling the landlord is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make. For one thing, you will want to make sure your lease allows you to sublet the unit to someone else in the first place. If not, you may be voiding your lease agreement, which means the landlord can evict the residents.
Related Article: Your Landlords Responsibilities
Even if you are permitted to sublease, it is unwise to assume that you can enter into an agreement with a subtenant without telling the landlord first. Your landlord may want to conduct a background check independently.
2. Not Meeting the Subtenant
Sometimes, it is hard to arrange a time to meet up with the person who will be subleasing your apartment, but you should not skip this step. If you found your subtenant online through an ad or through social media, ask to meet up for coffee. While you will not be living with your sublessee, you should screen them just as you would vet a potential roommate.
Better yet, approach the meeting as if you are the sublessee’s landlord instead. You should know what kind of person your sublessee is and how he or she will affect the rest of your household.
3. Subletting to Someone Without Checking Their History
Meeting with your potential sublessee can tell you a lot about that person, but it won’t necessarily indicate anything about his or her ability to pay rent on time. Checking a sublessee’s credit history will provide a good indication of whether the subtenant is financially responsible. It is also helpful to ask for personal references and check into the subtenant’s rental history.
Not all subtenants will want to jump through these hoops, but always keep in mind that you are still on the hook for your rent even when a sublessee is living in your unit. If a subtenant falls behind on rent, you can still be held accountable due to the fact that your name is on the lease
4. Not Discussing Who Pays Rent
Whether you decide to have a subtenant pay rent to you or to the landlord directly, it is important that you discuss this arrangement beforehand. If you request the sublessee to pay you, you can submit the payments to the landlord yourself and guarantee that they arrive.
However, some subtenants prefer to pay the landlord directly rather than using you as a middleman. In any case, you should agree to whichever arrangement makes you both feel comfortable.
5. Not Signing a Sublease
If your landlord allows subtenants, chances are he or she will also require that sublessees sign a lease of their own, which will be included as an addendum to your original lease. Even if your landlord does not require such documentation, you should always get your agreement in writing. When you do not have a written agreement with your sublessee, you have no legal protection in the event something goes wrong.
6. Not Setting House Rules
The terms of your original lease or the sublease generally list rules set by your landlord. However, you may want your sublessee to stick to a few additional terms of your own. House rules are more like guidelines than hard-set requirements, but they may be just as important to you.
For example, you might want to set clear expectations about your guest policy and the condition you expect the apartment to be in when you return. If a sublessee leaves a mess or throws regular parties and you did not have an agreement in place, you might not be able to take any action.
7. Failing to Take a Security Deposit
Just as you are responsible for the rent being paid on time, you are on the hook for any damage that occurs in your apartment. This is true regardless even if you did not cause it. Unfortunately, many subtenants will leave a mess or even destroy certain elements of your unit that you could be held responsible for.
The easiest way to ensure that you are covered is to take a security deposit from the subtenant before he or she moves in. If the sublessee leaves the place in the same condition it was when you left, you can return the deposit. However, you can keep the deposit to recoup your own losses if there is permanent damage that could be taken out of your own security deposit when your lease is over
8. Keeping Utilities in Your Name
Your sublease agreement should always address who is responsible for the utilities. In most cases, it is a good idea to have the subtenant cover the cost of the utilities or even put the bills in his or her name. Alternatively, you can keep the utilities in your name and arrange to have the sublessee pay you.
However, keeping the utilities in your name can backfire if your subtenants fall behind on rent as well as their utility bills. Furthermore, once someone else is living in your apartment, you have no way of knowing how much they will use the water and power. If you switch the utilities to the sublessee’s name, you will not have to worry about your subtenants not paying you enough for utilities.
9. Failing to Tell Your Renter’s Insurance Agent
Your renter’s insurance policy needs to be updated if you move out of your apartment while subtenants occupy it. This is especially important if you plan on leaving any personal belongings behind, such as electronics, furniture or other expensive items.
Laws and regulations about insurance coverage will vary by state, but the policies can also vary from one insurance agency to the next. In any case, you should always let your agent know when someone else will be living in your apartment to make sure your coverage is still intact.
10. Treating Your Sublessee Like a Roommate
When looking for a sublessee, you may end up conducting your search as though you are looking for a roommate. However, you need to look at different things when finding a person to sublet your unit.
Because you will not be living with this person, his or her personality and habits are not necessarily as important as his or her ability to pay rent and respect your unit. Being too friendly with your subtenant can create problems down the road if you ever need to deal with serious matters, such as collecting rent payments that are overdue or handling disputes.
Related Article: What to Look for in an Apartment Contract
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