I'm leaving my apartment a month before the end of the lease. What can I do to find a replacement tenant?
June 18, 2010 6:02 AM   Subscribe

I'm leaving my apartment a month before the end of the lease. What can I do to find a replacement tenant?

I live in an apartment with the lease ending on August 31. I have informed my landlord that I intend to move out at the end of July, because I got a job on the other side of the country.

My landlord said that that wouldn't be a problem, and that if they were able to rent out the apartment starting in August (instead of September), then I wouldn't be responsible for August rent. I was also told that this probably wouldn't be a problem, because this is a student-heavy neighborhood and so there's lots of demand for apartments opening any time in the summer.

But, well, there have been a lot of showings and no takers. Should I take matters into my own hands and try to find a tenant myself?

Ideally I'd like to get this settled by July 1, because I paid the last month's rent upon moving into the apartment, and so if everything's settled by July 1 I wouldn't have to pay rent in July. But I have enough money that that doesn't really matter; I'd just like, in the end, not to have to pay a month's rent on a place I'm not living in.

And how do I advertise this? It seems like I basically want to put an ad up on Craigslist saying something like "you can have my apartment on August 1, but you'll have to talk to my landlord to get the details worked out"; that would sound a bit shady if I read it, I think. I don't know of anyone I know who wants an apartment but my friends and I still at that stage of life where people are moving around a lot, so I bet someone might come out of the woodwork.

(I'm in Philadelphia. See profile for more precise location, if you or someone you know might want the place.)
posted by madcaptenor to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could you just tell him to keep the deposit equal to the last month rent and be done iwth it?
posted by stormpooper at 6:06 AM on June 18, 2010

See, I'm still out a month's rent if I did that. When I moved in I had to pay the first and last month's rent and a one-month security deposit (that's standard here). Ideally I'd like to end up with the amount of money that I would have if my original lease had been written to end on July 31.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:10 AM on June 18, 2010

If there have been a lot of showings and no takers then it sounds like finding potential tenants isn't the problem. The problem is that people who come to see the place don't like it, don't like the price, or don't feel the need to commit yet. The only one of those you can do anything about is the first. Do you keep the apartment meticulously clean and organized when people come to see it?
posted by jon1270 at 6:10 AM on June 18, 2010

You could offer to split the cost of the August rent with prospective tenants, that might help and would be better for you than eating the whole cost.
posted by ghharr at 6:15 AM on June 18, 2010

We just went through this. We had to find a subletter ourselves though, the landlord would not show the place.

Get the place really clean. Post a free ad on Kijjijji (ok, googling seems to suggest that for you americans that the site is ebayclassified.) Rather than pay to bump the ad, we simply posted a new one every other day. We had TONS of replies, only a handful actually come see it, and then finally one applied and got it. You may need to get applications from the landlord so you can give them to people.
posted by utsutsu at 6:17 AM on June 18, 2010

I live with roommates that I found through a craigslist post. The listing simply said "room available in August", and when I got there the previous tenant told me that the lease would start in September, with a one-month sublet. During that search I also saw a TON of posts along the lines of "I am leaving the city, apartment available July with a new lease starting in September." I didn't perceive any shadiness in those posts - if it's clear that you are the previous tenant posting, then you don't need to go into the "talk to my landlord" part in the ad itself.
posted by heyforfour at 6:20 AM on June 18, 2010

Have you considered contacting different grad programs in the area? Grad students tend to move in before the undergrads. If you're associated with Penn, they have a website with listings. Alternatively contact the admin asst for the department. Biomedical Graduate Studies is pretty big and would be a good place to start.

I'll also repeat when jon1270 said and suggest that you take a look around your apartment and try to see it from the perspective of a potential tenant. Make sure that the apartment doesn't appear cluttered. If you're one of those people who is a bit oblivious to his/her surroundings, find a friend who isn't and ask them to come over and point at things. Keep window shades open so the place is well lit - wash the windows. Clean it up. Make sure it doesn't smell interesting - put lemon rinds in the garbage disposal. Are other tenants leaving things in the hallways? Is there trash in the yard? Take care of it.
posted by sciencegeek at 6:22 AM on June 18, 2010

I see ads like that on Craigslist all the time, things like, "August sublet available, with option to renew/extend lease." (Of course, I'm in Chicago, which has liberal subletting laws, so that may have something to do with that.) I also see tenant-posted ads on Craigslist all the time -- you know, "Apartment available August 1, I'm the current tenant and can answer questions. Lease dependent on landlord approval." Neither is particularly shady.

Remember, your landlord basically has no incentive to get the place rented him/herself because, hey, either way he/she gets the rent for August. For all you know, people have been interested in the place for a slightly lower rent or whatever but he knows he doesn't have to budge on that yet.

You, however, have big incentive to get it rented NOW. That basically means the onus falls on you to get someone in there. While your landlord will have to agree to the tenant (and agree to the rent, if it changes), you can also do a few things to sweeten the pot, like agree to pay the difference if the rent goes down, etc.

Good luck! I agree that it sucks to be double-paying rent.
posted by devinemissk at 6:24 AM on June 18, 2010

I guess I should have added, to agree with what other folks are saying...

Our ads just said it was for a 1 month sublet with a new lease in July. In our case, the rent wasnt changing and we said so. We ended up getting someone in for June 15, so we just forfeited the deposit and only owed them another $24 (Up here, standard deposit is half a months rent).
posted by utsutsu at 6:27 AM on June 18, 2010

I don't think that would be a shady craigslist ad. Just write in there that you're moving across the country. Happens all the time.
posted by Lizsterr at 8:08 AM on June 18, 2010

Nthing Craigslist, but it sounds as if you have to do a sell job since no one seems to like the apartment. Your apartment must look bright, uncluttered, and meticulous. You're going to have to pack up anyway, so start this week seriously decluttering and packing what you won't need until after you get to your new location. Can you stash the packed boxes in a basement or at a friend's place?
Get all clutter out of the bathroom, off kitchen counters, magazines and newspapers gone. Reorganize closets after you pack off-season clothes, coats, boots, shoes.

When the apartment looks much, much better, take four excellent photos--turn on all the lights and have the shades up when you take your pictures. Stand in the corner of the room to enlarge the space visually. Write an inviting ad about the positives of the place, especially location.

If that fails to invite interest, then do the half off thing, or just suck it up.
posted by Elsie at 8:55 AM on June 18, 2010

I'm going through the same thing right now--we're planning to move out early, and the landlord is fine with this as long as he can rent the place. We are cleaning and organizing in here like we've never cleaned and organized before. Have you seen any of those home shows where they talk about staging your place? You don't need to go over the top, but make it seem uncluttered so people feel like all their stuff can fit. Also, it should be spotlessly clean--you don't them to think about your dirty tub.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:52 AM on June 18, 2010

I have seen those shows. They make me want to vomit. But I might just suck it up, since everybody seems to be saying that I should.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:27 AM on June 18, 2010

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