The Do's and Don'ts of Subletting

Originally posted on August 18, 2017 3:50 pm
Updated on August 22, 2017 9:28 am


While renting is a great thing and can provide you with more flexibility than owning, there are still some restrictions. Sometimes, you may find yourself having to move out before the end of your rental agreement. While it would be handy to be able to just up and go, that can cause some problems. You signed the agreement, which means you’re responsible for abiding by its rules.

This means that if you go through with the move, you will be on the hook for months and months of rent payments. However, there is a great solution to this problem, and that is subletting. Subletting is basically a legal arrangement between you and someone else. That “someone else” is essentially agreeing to live in your place, pay rent, and essentially taking over your lease (including respecting all the parts of your rental agreement).

While this can be a great way to save yourself some money for both parties, it can also turn into a disaster. With that in mind, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind to make subletting be a great experience for you!


1. Be selective with who you sublet to

This should be an absolute given, but time and time again, people will just take what they can get. Instead, you should be very selective about who you sublet to. You are held liable if they are not paying their rent or do not respect the property. Remember, you are vouching for this person and if they are awful, you are likely to ruin your relationship with your landlord and lose a lot of money in the process. It is a good idea to have some sort of screening process to make sure that people are suitable options.

2. Know the rules in your city/state

Being that the United States of America is a fairly large country, the rules and regulations for subletting might differ depending on where you are. Some places require you to ask your landlord, while others don’t need your landlord’s permission at all. If you want a quick reference to check out the rules, visit this site for some good information

3. Ask your landlord

Of course, before just up and leaving and letting someone else live in your apartment and take over your lease, you should try to bring it up with your landlord. While this isn’t always required by law (as you just read about), it is a good way to avoid any stress or problems in the future. They will appreciate the gesture and might even share some tips with you about selecting the right person to sublet.

4. Create rules or guidelines

Before you can leave and move someone in, it is a good idea to set some ground rules or guidelines for what they can and can’t do. This is still your lease and if you have any particular specifications to make, that is your prerogative. For example, do you want them to have a pet inside your apartment? Can they smoke? These are things you need to think about and provide to the person you are subletting to so they are aware of your expectations.


1. Don’t think you can charge more

If you got a really good deal on your apartment, it is natural to think “hey, I bet if I jack up the price when I sublet, I can still find an interested party”. It can be very tempting to want to charge more than what you pay your landlord. However, many cities (including San Francisco, New York, and other rent controlled cities), don’t allow this to happen. However, there are some places this is allowed as long as it isn’t specifically disallowed in your agreement. So be sure to read your lease agreement and also the local or state rules for wherever you are beforehand.  

2. Don’t return unannounced while subletting to someone

This is just a common courtesy you should extend. If a person is staying in your apartment and paying rent, the apartment should feel like a home to them. If you are constantly barging in and out of their living space, they are unlikely to be very happy about it. After all, you are not even paying the rent anymore. Of course, if you have forgotten something important it is totally okay to go back, but be sure to text or call the tenant and give them some notice.

3. Don’t sublet without a meeting first

If you have a good deal on rent that you have to leave behind, there is a good chance you will have a line-up of people calling and emailing you to sublet. Instead of just selecting one at random or picking the one who answered you first, you need to meet these people face to face. Anyone can act normal or professional on the phone or via email. To really get a judge of these people, make sure to grab a coffee with them or invite them over for a drink. First impressions can tell a lot about a person and remember, these people can cost you a lot of stress and money if they turn out to be an awful tenant.

4. Don’t leave your apartment a mess before they move in

So while you need to make sure they are a reliable and respectful person, you also have to extend that courtesy to them. If they show up to a filthy apartment and you haven’t done a thing to make it seem like “home” for them, there is a good chance they won’t respect your space. If you leave your apartment in great condition, the person you sublet to will know what you and your landlord expect.

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