Jenn Pedde is the community manager for the Masters of Social Work program at the University of Southern California in the Virtual Academic Center, which is the only fully accredited online MSW degree. She’s an avid traveler, and enjoys photography. She also writes for our partners at Uloop, a student powered marketplace. Read more great posts like this on their blog.
By Jen Pedde
Wrapping up the school year and moving to a new city for your summer internship can be exciting, but also extremely stressful. If your apartment lease lasts through the summer and you (or your roommates) can’t afford to incur the cost of a room you don’t live in, then it’s time to start looking for someone to sublet to during the months you’ll be away.
Step #1: Speak with your roommates.
Tell them you’ll be subletting your room for the summer and have an open conversation about their concerns so this process can proceed as smoothly as possible. Make sure you know their requirements – i.e. “same sex,” “non-smoker,” etc. As an added bonus – they may already know someone to take your spot!
Step #2: Check your lease for a sublet clause.
Many times landlords insert clauses into their leases that prohibit you from subletting. The simplest way to find out is to call your landlord and ask or review the lease yourself. Many universities offer a student legal clinic, where aspiring legal minds will walk through the lease with you for free.
Remember: When you sublet your apartment, you’re still legally responsible to pay the landlord, so if the person staying fails to make rent, you’ll still be on the hook. Have your subletter pay ahead of time to avoid problems.
Step #3: Market your sublease.
You should start by getting your room in showing condition and taking pictures (of the room, common areas and exterior) for all marketing material. Will you be leaving the room furnished or unfurnished? It’s important that your flyer has strong selling points so that your sublease becomes irresistible in a potential subletter’s eyes. Think about what sold you on the apartment, and make sure to emphasize that in your materials.
Step #4: Set a reasonable price.
Never get greedy and try to make money on your summer sublease (unless you are in an extremely high demand area). If your total rent (remember to consider utilities, cable / internet and other expenses) was $1,000 per month, I’d start with that and then lower by 10% until you find someone. You can typically expect to get 70 – 80% of your rent.
Step #5: Advertise.
Start your search by talking to friends and fellow classmates. You never know who could be looking for a place to crash for the summer. Simultaneously post flyers at your school, on message boards around campus, and in local businesses that are frequently visited by students.
The goal is to reach as many eyeballs as possible, so the best place to do that is by posting online. Of course, you can post on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but there are a few sites specifically designed to connect those in the market for a sublet with those looking to sublet.
One of them is Uloop.com, an online marketplace for college students. Over 500,000 college students use the site to find housing, roommates or buy and sell other items like textbooks. Another is Craigslist, which has a listing category for sublets/temporary housing. Craigslist is vulnerable to scams, so be skeptical of any emails that sound too good to be true! With Uloop, that concern isn’t as great, as every member is required to have a “.edu” email address (which are typically only given out to students and faculty).
Step #6: Meet with prospective tenants.
It’ll be your job to evaluate their personality and get a gauge for if they are responsible and capable of making the payments. Don’t be afraid to ask some personal questions, because you need to be comfortable with this individual. Try to schedule a time when at least one of your roommates will be around so they have the chance to meet the prospective tenants as well.
Step #7: Ask for references.
If you are lucky enough to have multiple people interested, ask for their personal references or the contact information for previous landlords to get a sense of their past and confirm that they are in fact responsible.
Step #8: Put it in writing.
You’ll want to have a formal, written sublease in place with your ideal tenant. Again, your university’s student legal services may be able to assist you with this or you can find a sublease template online from one of the following locations: Microsoft Office, Docstoc, RentIowa.com, HVCC.edu, or simply search Google for “sublease template” to find other options. Have the tenant sign the summer sublease agreement and collect a security deposit from them. The amount of the security deposit is up to you, just so that it is enough to cover any damage that your new tenant causes (broken window, carpet stains, etc).
Step #9: Don’t leave valuables in your room.
Before you move out, make sure to remove anything personally or monetarily valuable in the room. Another must is to clean your floors, bathroom and any other area that you / they are responsible for. This is not only courteous, but it will also set their expectations come move-out day.