Having the option to sublet your apartment is wonderful. It gives you the freedom to travel for several months, take a temporary job in another city, or even make a little extra income if you sublet at a markup. Of course, your sub-lessee is an extension of you, and anything he does will be a reflection on what sort of tenant you are. So it’s important not only to choose your sub-lessee carefully but also to make sure he is clear on certain rules. Remember that if your landlord takes issue with your sub-lessee, it could be you who loses your residence. Here are important rules to set with a sub-lessee.
There is a limit on guests
Make sure your sub-lessee understands what the limit is on guests. It’s okay to put a limit in his contract that is typically smaller than most renter’s limits in the building. You want the least (and possibly none) amount of damage done to this apartment when the sub-lessee is there, and limiting guests is a good way to ensure that.
No overnight guests
You’ve vetted the person on this contract to sleep in the apartment and nobody else. You can ask potential sub-lessees, in their interview, if they anticipate having anyone sleep over like a significant other or family member. If you’re comfortable with it, you can clear these few people, but don’t allow for regular, unexpected overnight guests.
No posting photos online of the place
Ask that your sub-lessee not post photos of your home on the Internet. You probably do not want total strangers being familiar with the layout of your home—like what kind of balcony window you have and where in your house you hang precious artwork.
They cannot make copies of the keys
It’s imperative that you ask your sub-lessee not to make copies of the keys. He is the only person you are approving to have a copy of the key.
Report issues right away
Require your sub-lessee to report any issues with the unit the moment they arise. It’s common for sub-lessees to let a leak or electrical issue go untreated because they feel it isn’t their problem since they’ll be leaving soon. But the longer these problems go unattended to, the harder they can be to fix.
Who is paying what bill?
Make sure you are very clear on how utility bills will be handled. Are you leaving them in your name, and the sub-lessee is to pay you directly for those? Are you switching them over to the sub-lessee’s name for the time being? If you don’t clarify this, either you or the sub-lessee could face collection calls because of unpaid bills.
Talk about smoking regulations
Is smoking allowed in the unit? If not in it, then what about on the balcony? If not at all, how far from the building must they stand if they want to smoke?
And noise ordinances
If your building has noise ordinances such as “No guests on balconies or in outside shared areas after 10pm,” make sure your sub-lessee is aware of these.
No letting un-cleared services in the house
Your sub-lessee should not let any professional services in the house that you or the landlord did not tell him were coming. If anyone shows up at the door claiming to work for the Internet company or a plumbing company, but neither you nor your landlord notified the sub-lessee of this visit, it could be a burglar.
Collect the mail in a timely manner
Ideally, you should have your mail held at the post office while you’re away or forwarded to your new, temporary address. But that doesn’t mean that some companies and individuals won’t still send mail your way. It’s important that your sub-lessee checks and clears the mailbox. An over-stuffed mailbox can suggest to onlookers that your home is vacant.
Rent must be paid on time
Finally, it’s very important your sub-lessee pay rent on time. If he pays rent to you, and then you pay your landlord, your sub-lessee should turn rent into you at least five days before you pay your landlord, to allow time for the multiple transactions. If your sub-lessee is paying your landlord directly, remember that if he is late, any late fees may fall on you.
Subletting your place is a great option if you need flexibility in your life, but it’s important that you choose a resident who is responsible and courteous.