How do I pick the right tenants to sublet (or swap for) my apartment, and how do I help them feel at home?
February 1, 2007 4:05 PM Subscribe
Have you done a short-term sublet (or housing swap)? If you were the renter: how did you evaluate applicants, and how did you help your subletter feel at home? If you were the subletter: what worked, and what do you wish the renter had done for you or told you? I'll be subletting my apartment in NYC but I'd love to hear from people in all areas & situations.
posted by allterrainbrain to human relations (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'll be allowed to sublet my rent-stabilized apt if I give advance written notice. I will ask to make sure, but I assume the same rule would apply if I did a housing swap (where two people in different cities trade apts, with no exchange of money).
I'll give details here but will divide them into three parts (in case there's only one part you care about).
• CHOOSING PEOPLE:
I'm not worried about finding enough applicants (since my rent is low both in absolute terms and relative to location/niceness), but I don't know how to evaluate these applicants. Other mefi threads emphasize checking references -- but "references" are almost as easy to fake as self-decriptions are (as a seven-year New Yorker, I've seen my share of people lying in all kinds of contexts, especially real estate). I don't care about financial references since I will ask for the rent up front, but I really care about find people I can count on to do what I'm asking (keep the place clean, water my plants, never smoke inside).
• WELCOMING PEOPLE:
I plan to
- orient each subletter in person on the first day;
- leave welcome stuff (some food & toiletries, a Metrocard & subway map, and my general NYC maps & books);
- put together a good neighborhood guide & map (all the local food/services/etc.);
- leave a page of apt stuff (landlord contacts, plant watering instructions, etc.); and of course,
- leave everything clean & leave space free for their stuff.
What else would a subletter appreciate? Also, I think I should allow couples to apply as well as single people -- are there advantages or disadvantages of subletting to couples, or swapping (:)) with couples?
• PAYMENTS & TIMING:
I'm planning to do a few short sublet blocks (ranging from 2 to 8 weeks -- maybe 3.5 months total) over the course of each year. So I think in each case, I should ask for all rent up front (payable on the arrival day), plus a small security/damage deposit (payable in advance to ensure against flaking?) which I'll refund in cash when we meet at my place on the departure day. On my end, I'll pay these months in advance to my landlord, and I'll make a big advance payment to the utility company.
I pay for electricity & cooking gas, so I guess I should estimate a fair-but-safe max usage and include that in one "all utilities paid" rent amount? If I end up getting broadband at home (still undecided since there are so many free-wifi places around), I'll just include its cost in the amount. I have a white iBook I can leave for the subletter to use in the apt & take out to free-wifi places (so if a subletter wanted to use it, I'd make a fresh user account for them and I'd make their security/damage deposit include the iBook's current value).
I also need to figure out some way to ensure people won't flake with little or no notice. And if the only real anti-flaking insurance is an advance deposit, then I need to figure out how an out-of-town person can trust *me* enough for that (since of course I could be totally faking my apt pics & info, to collect "deposits"). If they're able, would it help for them to video chat with me while I'm in the apt, so I can show them stuff live & answer their questions?
Thanks for your thoughts on any of this!