need advice for subletting my apartment
March 23, 2005 10:04 AM   Subscribe

I am going to sublet my apartment for the last three months of my lease. I saw the question and comments here , but have a slightly different set of concerns about how to do this [more inside].

I am in a strict one-year lease which ends August 1. I found someone who is willing to move in April 15th. I have my landlord's permission to sublet, but I think that the lease will need to remain in my name for the duration. (My landlord is not very accomodating). I don't know the guy who is moving in (found him on craigslist), so what information should I get from him (that won't cost me a lot of money to obtain)? And should I create a contract or document for him to sign? He has offered to give me a security deposit. And I am in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, if that matters.
posted by picklebird to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Picklebird - this would be above my risk tolerance level.

Your name is on the lease - you are responsible and accountable for anything that happens in that apartment while you are away - from paying the rent to any damage that occurs during that period.

You don't know the guy - so if you really want to sublet to him, my #1 piece of advice is to get his credit rating. Can he pay. And, get references and check them out. Call his current landlord and his previous landlords as well. You don't know him! Financial and experiencial background are critical here.

The deposit should be at least a month's rent, I'd ask for two. As for the contract - if this guy checks out in references and credit check, then yes absolutely. If he does not - don't bother

Because - if anything goes wrong - your name is on the lease. Plan accordingly
posted by seawallrunner at 10:23 AM on March 23, 2005

If it were me, I'd get work and housing references from the guy (make sure he can pay the rent and that he hasn't trashed previous houses), take a security deposit, and sign some sort of sublet agreement that at least covers what you can hold the deposit for. You should be able to find one online for not much money.

You may also want to think about having him switch utilities into his own name so you're not legally responsible for them.
posted by occhiblu at 10:24 AM on March 23, 2005

(Also, if the guy is interested in staying past the end of your lease, you may be able to talk your landlord into ending your lease now and saving himself the hassle of having to make up a new lease for the guy in a few months.)
posted by occhiblu at 10:26 AM on March 23, 2005

When checking references: Don't focus on the current landlord. If this guy is a horrible tenant, then the current landlord might say anything he has to in order to get rid of him. Focus on the slightly older references...
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:46 AM on March 23, 2005

I too had a an awful ('not very accommodating') landlord in Cleveland Heights. Man, I get all pissed off just thinking about him.
posted by sohcahtoa at 12:12 PM on March 23, 2005

Response by poster: Sohcahtoa, I wonder if it's one and the same (I wouldn't be too surprised.) Come to the Cleveland meet-up and we can discuss.

Thanks all for the other comments-- I did find a subletting agreement form online and have gotten more pertinent info from this guy, who seems to be an upstanding citizen. I know that I am too trusting, as I spent many years in San Francisco moving in with total strangers as housemates because I could never afford my own apartment.
posted by picklebird at 12:27 PM on March 23, 2005

Best answer: Exhaust all options for getting out of the lease before commiting yourself to the sublet. Subletting makes you both tenant and landlord when you want to be neither. BEWARE.

Call your local landlord-tenant board or legal aid office to find out what your options are. (Your local library probably also can provide the Nolo tenant rights book". And here's the primer/forms specifically for getting out of a lease).

Hopefully you happen to live in one of the jurisdictions where your lease obligation is void once you've presented the landlord with a qualified applicant who's ready to move in. Once you know what your sublet rights are, talk to the landlord. Even if he/she doesn't seem accomodating now, it can't hurt to make the attempt to negotiate some arrangement you can both accept--hopefully one that doesn't involve sublet.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 2:37 PM on March 23, 2005

Response by poster: Well, I will do my best. The guy I found doesn't want to have to sign a year lease (which is what my landlord requires for anyone signing a lease). I will try to reason with my sometimes unreasonable landlord for the sublettee to assume my lease for the duration. If not, I will protect myself as best as possible.
posted by picklebird at 3:57 PM on March 23, 2005

I don't know what the rental market is there, but it may be worth continuing to advertise your place until you can find someone who *will* sign a year-long lease. You'd have a lot more bargaining power with your landlord, who's likely to be wary of committing himself to a tenant who doesn't want to be there long-term.
posted by occhiblu at 4:10 PM on March 23, 2005

If you do get stuck with subletting, then check every reference. Landlords, past and present. Employers, past and present. Personal refs too. Of course it's a given that all will have nothing but good things to say. It's really more of a sniff test--are facts they give you jibing with info from the various sources (other refs, the app, credit report), did anyone seem to be uncomfortable giving the reference, was anyone overly eager to rave on insincerely *cough* fake ref? Etc.

Subletting puts you on the hook not only for what you do, but what your subletter does--or fails to do. Make renters insurance a contractual condition of tenancy through the end of your lease. For 3 months', the cost should be minor. But that way if something catastrophic happens, the landlord and subletter can take it up with the insurer rather than hounding you. Also collect a larger deposit from the sublettor than you've got on deposit with the landlord. That's your extra but of insurance against the kind of misc damages that aren't applicable under the renters' policy.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:12 PM on March 23, 2005

That's your extra but

"Bit". Bit of insurance! Argh.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 4:14 PM on March 23, 2005

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