Dos And Don’ts Of Subletting Your Apartment While You’re Away For A Few Months

If you're going to be relocating to a new location for a few months but have an apartment under lease during that period, subletting that apartment is a way to recoup some of your rent money while you're away. If you decide to go this route (after establishing that subletting is permitted by your landlord), make sure you follow these dos and don'ts during the subletting process.

Do put anything valuable in a storage unit while you're away.

Especially if you're subletting for a short period of time, like 1 - 2 months, you might be tempted to leave your items in the apartment and ask that your tenant live around them. However, this is not wise. Even if your tenant is completely trustworthy, you cannot guarantee that any house guests he or she has will be. Therefore, it is best to put any valuable items into a storage unit while you're away. This includes any expensive furniture, clothing, kitchen items, and decorations.

With a 5 x 5 foot storage unit costing about $40 - $50 per month to rent, you're better off paying for the unit than risking theft or damage of your property and having to go through the hassle of taking your tenant to court or filing a renter's insurance claim.

Do leave behind basic furniture that's not too valuable to you.

Often, someone who is looking for a short-term sublease will prefer the apartment they rent to have basic furnishings. That way, they don't have to move their own sofa, dresser, bed, and table in for such a short period of time. If you have furniture that is not extraordinarily valuable to you, consider leaving the basic pieces in the apartment for your tenant to use. Just leave the basic items, though -- the more you put in storage, the less you have to worry about theft and damage.

When you're writing up the lease for your tenant, include a list of the furnishings that you're leaving in the apartment. Including pictures of the items is not a bad idea, either. This way, if you come home to find that anything is lost or damaged, you'll have an easier time proving that you're owed compensation for those items.

Don't neglect to sign a lease.

A lot of sublets take place through verbal, informal agreements. However, this is not a wise way to go about things. Once you're out of town, you can't exactly go banging on your tenant's door if he does not send the rent check, and if you don't have a written lease, you'll have a hard time convincing a judge that you're owed money.

Protect yourself by having your tenant sign a lease that specifies, at the very minimum, the following:

  • The dates he or she is being granted use of the residence.
  • The amount of money owed to you, and the day it is due.
  • The state you expect the apartment to be left in.

Don't neglect to consider potential residents carefully.

When you sublet an apartment, you are still responsible for maintaining the terms of your lease with the property's real owner. Thus, it is in your best interest to ensure the person you sublet to is responsible and dependable. Screen your tenants carefully. Ask them for references, and actually call these references to ensure they have good things to say about the potential tenant. Verify a tenant's employment status before allowing him or her to sign a lease so you can be more confident you'll be paid. Only rent to someone you feel confident will take good care of the place while you're gone.

Subletting an apartment can ensure your bank account does not become drained by paying rent on two places while you're out of town for a long period of time. Just make sure you go about it properly, so your items or the property do not become damaged in the process.