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What is Subletting?

What is Subletting?
4 min. read

Image: EnziHa / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve spent any amount of time seeking out a rental, you’ve probably seen the term subletting, or subleasing before. Your awareness of the term has probably increased if you’ve ever been in a position where you need to break your lease early. But what exactly does subletting mean? Let’s take a look below.

The Basics

Subletting is when a tenant in a rented apartment, room, or house, wants to let their share out to a new tenant before their lease term is up. This is often due to a change of circumstances, in which they no longer need to, or no longer can stay in the property. Finding a new job, a change in personal relationships or financial issues are all common causes.

Since breaking your lease early can be tricky, and expensive, the option to find someone else to move in and pay the rent seems like a win-win situation for everyone involved. The original tenant gets to move out, the new tenant finds a place to live, and the landlord continues to be paid rent for the full lease term.

How it works

A common example is when you’re only part-way through your lease, say 2 months out of 12, and you find a new job in another state. You have to move out of state, but to break your lease early is extremely costly for a number of reasons. Instead, you agree with your landlord to sublet your apartment to someone else, who will cover the cost of the rent and utilities for the remaining 10 months of your lease.

They will pay you, and in turn, you will pay the landlord. In this way, no one loses out. Your name will remain on the lease however, and you remain responsible for the property for the duration of the term. Therefore, it’s important to ensure you are subletting to someone who will keep up with payments and treat the property with care.

How to Sublet

Once you know you’ll need to move out, the very first thing you need to do is check your lease agreement. Subletting legislation varies from state to state, and lease agreements differ from one rental to another. There are no clear-cut rules, so never assume, and always check your agreement! Within your agreement, you’ll see whether or not subletting is possible, and if it’s not mentioned at all, it probably is allowed. Also, get up to date with the local laws governing subletting in your area.

Get permission!

Next, speak to your landlord or property manager to either ask their permission if subletting isn’t normally allowed or to communicate your desire to sublet. Throughout the whole process, communication with the landlord is important, and it’s only fair that you let them know who you sublet to. Sometimes, they may have requests or limitations to who you can rent your space out to.

Find your replacement

Once you get the go-ahead, start looking for your replacement. It’s always best if you can find someone you know or a friend of a friend, so ask around your social circles first and foremost. If you don’t find anyone close, try public ads or social media.

When you do find someone who is interested, be sure to interview them if they’re someone you don’t already know. Let them know how long the lease will be for, and whether they’ll have the opportunity to take over the lease when it renews.

Figure out the logistics

As soon as you’re happy with the person you’ve found, it’s time to get the logistics sorted out. Introduce them to your landlord or property manager, at least via email if not in person. You and/or your landlord will then be required to draw up a sublease agreement. Like a normal lease agreement, this legally binding document puts down in writing the requirements of each party, as well as the procedures to be taken if any terms are broken; for example, how much rent to pay and when, and what happens if they’re late with the rent.

Finally, discuss the move-in date, create a copy of the keys, and figure out how payments will be made.

Subletting is a great way to get out of your apartment before your lease ends, without paying any penalties. It can be tricky to find the ideal replacement, but on the whole, it’s an ideal solution to a difficult situation.

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