How can I tell if you'll be reliable and not destory my stuff?
April 10, 2016 8:31 AM   Subscribe

I am interviewing subletters for my apartment this summer. While I have rented it out before fully unfurnished, this time I am looking to let it furnished, with just the most worrisome things stored in a locked closet. Have you done something like this? What are your best tricks / questions / etc. for discerning who would treat things the best? Thanks!

All of the people I am talking to are either coming to participate in an art program in which I have participated or have been recommended by friends who have vouched for them not being pigs. But I have a new built-in bed / storage / desk pod thing that I would really like to not be damaged. I can't afford for the place to sit empty all summer, so *someone* needs to live here; I know nothing is perfect, and the pod may be damaged, but I am looking for suggestions to figure out who is least likely to do so. Thanks!
posted by dame to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've been in your situation, but from the other end (looking to sublet for the summer). My applications for summer sublets were all successful, and I attribute that largely to giving a link to my AirBnB profile, which gave many reviews of me as a subletter. That way, people who were interested in subletting to me could see exactly what experience others had had when I stayed in their places. Most of my AirBnB reviews talked about the fact that I am quiet, tidy, and left the place clean, so I think they felt more comfortable subletting to me than to someone whom they didn't have any testimonials about. I'd therefore recommend that you attempt to get some impartial reviews of the people you're considering. Getting a recommendation from a friend is great, but it might not be the best indication of what the people are like *to live with*, rather than just *to be friends with*.
posted by ClaireBear at 8:40 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is them leaving a deposit out of the question? I know it seems counterintuitive but I have found that the best way to have subletters/renters take care of a place is to charge enough so that they are clear you mean business. You can offer someone a deal that is below-market but still decent for them.
posted by jessamyn at 8:41 AM on April 10, 2016

I somehow feel odd asking for a deposit for just three months, but it is possible I am being weird and that is the preferred answer.
posted by dame at 8:44 AM on April 10, 2016

Definitely get a deposit- it's not weird, it's totally fine.

Consider front-loading the rent as well (double rent the first month, regular rent the second month, third month is free, or [1.5 + 1 + 0.5] or something similar)- this protects you from having to replace them if they flake out and leave early.

Perhaps choose someone whose body size is similar to yours / well-suited to the furniture (if they are too small they might bang it up trying to move it, if they are too large they may strain it).

Ask to see a photo of their home, or do a Skype interview and look carefully or ask to see what's in the background. I did this with a subletter once- and noticed that her level of tidiness matched mine, her tastes matched mine (so I figured she would intuitively understand which of my possessions required the most care- the vintage items and the hard to clean items, less so the ikea basics), and her pets were healthy and happy, so I knew she'd be good to my pets too. She turned out to be an amazing subletter.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 8:54 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Contrive to examine the car that they arrive in.
If the car is a mobile midden, then it is possible that your rental will take on the same aspect.
I learned this from some friends who own rental properties.
posted by the Real Dan at 9:06 AM on April 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

Haha, the Real Dan, sadly the L train looks the same no matter who arrives on it.
posted by dame at 9:11 AM on April 10, 2016 [11 favorites]

We just rented a condo and the first thing the real estate lady and the owner did was a credit, an interview with the couple who owned the place. That took care of it.
posted by Postroad at 9:19 AM on April 10, 2016

Hi, I do this all the time.

1. Clear sublet agreement with dates, names, apartment rules (smoking? pets?), etc. Be sure to include who is responsible for utilities, etc. If you are going to cover utilities (this is usually less hassle) be sure to specify what range outside normal means they have to pay for the overages.
2. ID! Start by handing them a photocopy of your driver's license and then ask for theirs.
2a. References! I ask for a previous landlord reference and a personal reference. Bonus, this gives you a starting place for how to track them down if they don't hold up their end of the deal.
3. DEFINITELY a deposit. I'd say a full month's deposit.

If they balk at any of the above, WALK.

AFTER they do all of the above, photograph and catalogue your apartment. Provide them a copy of the written catalogue. When you get back you'll be tired and just interested in having this be over. Take the time to go through your place and make sure everything is there in the same shape you left it. Give yourself a day or two to settle in and notice that that vase that used to be by your sink is gone (or whatever) prior to returning the sublettor's deposit (make sure you explain the time frame for returning their deposit in the sublet contract and that you comply with applicable state law on this).

Good luck!
posted by arnicae at 9:20 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

with just the most worrisome things stored in a locked closet.

If it's anything truly irreplaceable, this isn't enough. Many household locks can be picked in a minute by moderately skilled people and there's been cases of nightmare AirBNB customers breaking into locked closets on drug binges.

Mostly I'd go with personal recommendations to try to eliminate risk. Merely being accepted into an art program doesn't necessarily mean they're safe.
posted by Candleman at 9:32 AM on April 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Haha, the Real Dan, sadly the L train looks the same no matter who arrives on it."

You can also check out their shoes :))
posted by jbenben at 10:54 AM on April 10, 2016

Don't judge renters by their cars! My car IS a midden, yet I'm the perfect tenant, honest, quiet, and responsible, and I always leave rentals immaculate.

If I were subletting my space I would rent a storage locker to put stuff that cannot be replaced.
posted by mareli at 7:05 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, don't leave your most precious stuff there. If only because, even if they are angels, they might have a friend who's not. Nthing the deposit, it's completely legit and covers you just in case.
posted by emjaybee at 12:45 PM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

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