The One Where He Rents The Apartment
April 11, 2005 6:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about entering into a friendly agreement over an apartment sublet with someone I trust completely. What sort of (mellow, low-grade, commie-loving) conditions should we have?

I may briefly sublet my apartment to a friend. I've seen advice on here about agreements between strangers, but I don't care about the legal crap. More, I would want to make sure we don't have hard feelings or miscommunications, so I'd be putting a few things in a clear letter. We want the date of sublet to be limitedly open-ended for both parties, and able to be terminated by 30-day-notice from either party (as in, I won't throw him out without a month's warning). Other than that, it's a pretty straight-up friendly arrangement.

What else should I/he ask for? What would *you* care about if you were subletting, from either side? Throughout this process, how would you ensure that things were all a happy-slappy lovefest?
posted by RJ Reynolds to Human Relations (7 answers total)
I would want to agree upfront that if anything of mine got broken (assuming you are subletting the apt furnished) or if there were damage to the apt itself as a result of their actions, my friend would pay for it.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2005

I just put down my Property book, having read the section on subletting. Yay for coincidence.

For legal "crap" reasons and friend-keeping reasons, make a written contract. I know you want as few rules as possible, but if anything bad happens having your agreement in writing can solve a few headaches. In addition, it is generally a bad idea to have un-written contracts concerning leases and real property, as they are likely to be found void for various reasons (that I won't get into because I'm not your lawyer).

And of course, if it's a sublease, you WILL be on the hook to your landlord for whatever your sublesee does (trashes the place, doesn't pay rent, whatever). As long as you're cool with that, don't worry too much.

Oh, I'm sure you've already done this, but read your lease to make sure you can sublet with/without your landlord's permission.
posted by falconred at 6:59 PM on April 11, 2005

I second having an agreement about what to do when something gets broken.

You might also state the level of care the apartment needs while you are gone - i.e. you might not want to come back to find it a total mess with pests infesting it because your friend never cleaned.

Other questions (top of my head):
Who is responsible for paying bills, and what happens if they don't get paid in a timely manner?
What happens if rent gets paid late?
Do you want your friend to keep track of mail and calls for you while you are away? Water plants?

I think having these down in writing, while it does seem dictatorial and "unfriendly" will save you headaches and possible conflicts later.
posted by mai at 8:16 PM on April 11, 2005

when i was living with a group of good people we kept a chores list and said that if you where late on doing them then you had to buy the house a pizza for every day late (unless everyone agreed to forego it for that busy week (generally finals)). works surprsingly well if taken seriously
posted by NGnerd at 8:33 PM on April 11, 2005

Best answer: I'd want to be clear on terms of entrance. With someone you trust, giving them fair warning before entering the apartment during their sublet is a good idea for both parties. You might also want the ability to stay overnight, or get access to stuff, so making these terms known ahead of time will help.

However, it's weird to see someone else living in "your" space, and is best avoided. If you do need to come by, you should at least attempt prior contact, and ring the bell before letting yourself in.

You might also ask to be notified about things like the place being vacant for any given length of time, or if he wants to make a second set of keys. Also make clear what to do if a problem arises. Should they call & pay for a plumber? If they're skilled enough, is it OK to fix it themselves? Who should they be sure to call/NOT call? Figure out mail & phones, too: whether the subletter is free to use the mailing address as a home address, what to do with mail that comes for you, whether to use the land line number, take messages for you, or what have you.

That's about all a commie and his friend should need, if you're in touch with the person once in a while and have rent & other payment terms also outlined in your letter. Just list them along with "The violets get watered weekly" & "garbage day is Friday" on your friendly note, along with some of the above details. Both of you should sign & date it, keeping your own copies. Make a separate sheet with the apartment address, phone number and cross street prominently featured, and list all your contact information, along with the names and phone & account numbers for utilities or any other data (best pizza delivery?) for the fridge door.
posted by obloquy at 8:51 PM on April 11, 2005

Make clear what will happen in case any of your friendly rules are broken.

What happens if rent is not payed?
What happens if something gets broken?
What happens if one of you decides to terminate the lease on short notice?

While neither one of you plans on any of these things happening, it is better to have solutions in place beforehand instead of debating it when it actually becomes an issue. That way you ensure it remains friendly.
posted by sophist at 2:29 AM on April 12, 2005

Response by poster: Hey, these are all great answers, thanks so much!
posted by RJ Reynolds at 6:31 AM on April 12, 2005

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