Subletting 101

Going on exchange next semester? Don’t want to pay for rent while you’re gone?

Just like saying yes to the dress, saying yes to a potential subletter is a big decision. A subletter is someone who rents your apartment while you’re away, but finding a perfect match can honestly be tricky. Before making any promises, have an open conversation with your housemates and tell them that you’re hoping to sublet your room.  Make sure that they’re comfortable with the entire process, because they'll be the ones who’ll be living with your special guest.  

After having this open conversation, make sure that you’re ACTUALLY allowed to have someone sublet your room.  Some landlords are even picky about who you choose as your sublet, and want to speak to the potential tenant before signing any papers. That’s why, ladies and gents, it’s important to read the fine print on your lease.  I know it seems tedious, but it’s actually a must. Once you’ve got the go ahead from your landlord, you can begin your search and find your ideal candidate. 

Some questions to ask yourself:

a) Do you care if a potential candidate identifies as male or female?

Ask your housemates if they care about this.  If you live in a house with only girls, they may prefer to live with someone who identifies as female too.  

b) Does this sublet seem trustworthy? Will you worry about your belongings when you’re away?

If you’re already worrying about this before leaving on exchange, this is DEFINITELY a red flag.  Listen to your gut because your gut always knows when something doesn’t feel right. 

c) What if the sublet doesn’t want to pay full rent? Does this matter to you?

You have to decide whether you’d be willing to chip in and pay for some of the rent even if you aren’t living there. 

In terms of finding a subletter, there are Facebook groups and pages where you'll be able to post a listing and students searching for a place will message you.  This process is supposed to be somewhat painless and easy, and it’s the most common way to find subletters nowadays. The most important thing to remember is to post EARLY! If you know that you’re going on exchange next semester, why wait until the month before to post? You want to choose wisely, and can do this most effectively when you aren’t in a state of desperation. 

BEFORE signing your agreement and making things official with a potential subletter, it’s time to consider the following 4 things:

  1. 1. Does the subletter speak English?

    If your housemates speak English in the house, it would be ideal to find someone who also speaks English.  It shouldn’t matter if their English is perfect, but they should be able to communicate with you and your housemates and carry a basic conversation.

  2. 2. Is the subletter a partier? Do they smoke or do drugs?

    Find out if the subletter is a partier and let your housemates know.  If your housemates are also partiers, they may enjoy having another person to hang out with at the club! However, if the subletter likes having people over all the time and if they’re loud late at night, it might not work out.  If your housemates aren’t comfortable being around people who smoke or engage in similar activities, make sure to let the potential subletter know. Many houses near university campuses are actually smoke-free homes, so a subletter that smokes regularly would have a difficult time living there. 

  3. 3. Does the subletter have any severe allergies?

    This may seem like a weird question to ask, but it’s actually an important one! 

    You may cook certain dishes on a regular basis that are made of ingredients that are popular allergens. If you find a potential subletter that you love, you might be willing to give up making these foods. Just make sure that you’ll be willing to make that switch! Also, ask potential tenant if they have allergies so you’ll be prepared when they arrive and will be able to cater to everyone’s needs.

  4. 4. Ask the subletter about their daily routines!

    You don’t have to ask them about every aspect of their life, but find out if they are messy or clean, or if they’re a morning or night person. You don’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night to blaring music, or woken up at 6:00 am to the sound of the blender in the kitchen.  

    Before making any promises, FaceTime the subletter with your housemates, and then after your conversation, ask your housemates what they think.  If they agree, you’re good to go! There definitely won’t be any subletting horror stories here.

Happy subletting!