Keeping on a rented house while working away - any suggestions?
June 25, 2014 2:02 AM   Subscribe

Hi, There is a chance of being offered a very well paid 6 month job 7 hrs away from my newish home The lack of work here makes it hard to dismiss. That said I'm newish to my home and fond of it and my community. I suffer with hideous depressions and want to keep it on/build roots. (More inside).

I have asked the landlord how they would be about me having a house sitter/friend in or of there is a way to legitimately sub-let. Although they haven't out and out said no they are clearly not keen. Telling me to sort job out first to know what I would need - I don't want to muck about a potential employer if house situation is not-sortable.

Landlord says they don't like sublets but may consider a temporary arrangement such as a friend if I could come back every weekend (not practical) but '6 months would not be considered temporary'. I'm not sure I could get someone and have a lot of trust issues with letting someone in having been fkd over badly in a living arrangement before and please throw a cat into the situation.

All I can think of now is asking very established neighbours if anything similar has been done or offering all rent upfront or doubling my deposit, none of which feel great.

I feel it's a no go but anyone worked around a similar problem?

Accomodation at job is with it (no cats allowed).

Thanks in advance.
posted by tanktop to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you find someone to sit your cat in their home and then just keep paying the rent month to month?
posted by misspony at 4:07 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do I understand correctly that you have a cat? Maybe try to explain to your landlord that someone (housesitter or subletter) is primarily needed for the cat as a sitter because you can not take it with you on your work assignment 7 hrs away and boarding it for 6 months would be stressful for the cat and expensive to boot. Maybe that would sway their decision.

Check the law for rented housing in your area and read your lease. Does it outright say that subletting is not allowed?

Does the landlord live near by? How often to they come to check on the property? Would you feel okay having someone stay at your place behind your landlord's back?

I would ask the landlord what their preferred solution would be before you offer any additional money (six months rent up front or doubled deposit or some such) and then you can run the numbers and decide if it makes sense for you (economically and otherwise) to take that job.

1. you don't take the job
2. you take the job and move out
3. you take the job and keep paying rent, board your cat some place else
4. you take the job and keep paying rent and have a friend/neighbor come in twice a day to feed & spend time with the cat
5. you take the job and sublet (lower rent for the subletter because they take care of your cat) - landlord is okay with this
6. you take the job and sublet (lower rent for the subletter because they take care of your cat) - landlord does not know/agree - what are the potential consequences if landlord finds out?
7. you take the job and have a house/cat sitter take care of everything - landlord is okay with this
8. you take the job and have a house/cat sitter take care of everything - landlord does not know/agree - what are the potential consequences if landlord finds out?

Options 1 through 4 are risk free w/r/t this rented house. But options 3 and 4 would cost you additional money, so do the math how lucrative that other job would really be. Option 5 would be ideal (house and cat are cared for, you don't incur any significant extra cost, landlord agreed). Option 7 is okay, yet more expensive. Options 6 and 8 could have inconvenient consequences.
posted by travelwithcats at 4:29 AM on June 25, 2014

Well, thinking about paying rent for six months for a property you won't live in and that you've been told you can't sublet strikes me as a massive investment in your location.

Would you be able to get a job in your current location that pays current job offer pay less rent you'd be paying? That should be a significant drop in pay compared to the other job. Because that's what you'd be doing effectively.

Is this flat an exceptionally good deal? Or do you just really like it/building/neighbours? What is the letting market like in this neighbourhood? Could you reasonably expect to find a similarly priced, pleasant apartment in the neibourhood if you left and returned when the job is over? I realise moving your stuff into storage and finding somebody to look after your cat is a hassle but unless this place has a LOT of things going in its favour the economics don't seem to stack up.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:35 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm with your landlord right up until House Sitter/Cat Sitter/Friend comes into the picture. If YOU'RE paying the rent, and paying it on time, why would he care about who is playing with your cat?

He's concerned about two things:

1. Getting the rent on time.

2. Not having damage to his place in your absense.

So assuage those fears. Tell him EXACTLY who will be in your place caring for kitty, and be sure to let him know that Hell or High water, you'll be paying the rent personally.

After that, he probably could care less.

But structure the request such that he's perfectly comfortable with the arrangement.

"Landlord, I LOVE this house and I want to live in it for a long time. I'm going to be on temporary assignment 7 hours away from here. I can't bring my kitty, so I'm arranging to have someone come stay to take care of Fluffy while I'm on an Oil Platform in the Bearing Sea. This means I can't feasibly come home every weekend. My cousin Cassandra Martin will be staying in the home while I'm away. She's a great lady, and her hobbies are knitting, sitting quietly and taking very good care of property. I'll continue to pay the rent and the utilities. I give you permission to stop by to check on things while I'm away, here are my seven contact numbers and the address of the Oil Platform."

Honestly, if you address typical landlord concerns, I doubt very seriously there'd would be an objection.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:43 AM on June 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think you will need to address your landlord's unspoken but likely fear - how often is this going to happen?

Maybe he is thinking "she's going to be away for this six months, and then will she come back for a month and then leave again for another six months?" That's kind of a whole lot of sketchy for a landlord who is probably has been effed over more than you have in terms of having his place rented out to reliable people who won't damage his place.

If you can convince him that this is a one-off situation (which is unlikely given what you've said about employment in your area) AND you can bring him a stellar sub-letter he might go for it.

If you can't really guarantee him the stability he thought he was getting when he signed a lease with you, you have to be fair and understanding to his situation as well.
posted by vignettist at 8:22 AM on June 25, 2014

There's insurance implications if a house is not actually occupied and damage that can be a small deal if someone is around but can severely damage a house if it sits empty for weeks.
posted by Candleman at 8:48 AM on June 25, 2014

From a landlord's perspective there are several things to work around:

1. Your housesitter/petsitter may end up becoming considered a 'resident'. (The legal definition doesn't have to do with leases or paying money, but has a set of rules to define what it means for someone to live somewhere.) It's difficult to get rid of a resident; You have to evict.

2. You are not going to be living there. Maybe you'll keep them up to date with a forwarding address, but they don't know you, and who's to say? It's much harder to find someone responsible if they're not living there.

3. Even if they find you, you have a lot less at stake than someone who's living there. They can't evict you, since you'll already be moved out. You could just come and take your stuff somewhere (if you really cared). So if you get a month behind on rent and it takes that long to evict the housesitter and then 30 days to get rid of all your stuff, there's no way for them to know that you will actually pay the extra 2 months of rent.

4. If nobody's staying overnight, the landlord needs to get a different (much more expensive) insurance.

5. Are you doing yard maintenance? If so, what happens if that's not done? Does he play telephone and tell you, and you tell your subletter? Does he kick out the subletter (and then what about you)? It's just messy. Most people I know who do sublet are doing it for the summer in the college neighborhood, so the units are not nice anyway. Or they are doing it for the last x months of the lease and are "reassigning" the lease, so the they have a direct landlord-tenant relationship rather than a landlord-tenant-subletter relationship.

I could see your landlord changing their mind if you are willing to pay all 6 months up front. And especially if you pick a housesitter/petsitter who is really professional, with references, and who can pass a background and credit check.

You say you don't know if you're willing to take the job and much about with an employer and you don't even know if you can find a petsitter. But I as a landlord wouldn't want to spend the hours doing the research, talking to my lawyer and insurance agent, if you don't even know if this is a sure thing! That costs me time and money, and it's really much easier to say no unless I really like the tenant.

I would also personally wonder why you're not buying a house if you wanted to put down roots that much. Or rather, even if I jump through the hoops to make the work with you, you'll just move out in a year or two to buy a house, and that's really not worth it to me.
posted by ethidda at 10:13 AM on June 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

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