Pros and Cons of Subletting Your Home

Posted by Pam Hill in HousingDecember 9, 20224 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Subletting can be a great way to avoid breaking your lease if you have to move out early by having someone else move in and pay rent.
  • However, read the fine print.  Ensure that your rental agreement allows subletting.
  • Once you have the go-ahead to sublet your apartment, treat your subletting arrangement like a business transaction.
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What Exactly is Subletting?

Subletting is a legal arrangement under which you sign an agreement with an individual to rent out your apartment, in whole or in part, while remaining on the lease as the lessee with the landlord. Said another way, when a tenant leases out a property or part of a property that they are themselves renting from a landlord, this is considered subletting.


Important in this definition is that the lease you signed with your landlord does not change during the sublet period.  Your name will remain on the lease, and the subletter’s name will not be added to the lease.  Additionally, you, as the primary tenant, will remain responsible for prompt and full rent payment, and any damages to the unit, during the sublet period.

The Pros and Cons of Subletting 

 Pros of Subletting 

  • If you need to vacate your apartment for a few months, or for the remaining period of the lease, subletting helps you avoid the penalties that would surely come from breaking your lease early.  
  • You can move in a significant-other quickly and easily without the hassle of signing a new lease.
  • Becoming a subletter allows you to try out a neighborhood or apartment building before committing to a long-term lease. 
  • You have a home to return to if you only need to lease out your apartment temporarily. For instance, if you are a student who will be away for summer break, finding a subletter to rent out your apartment can ensure that the rent is paid over the summer, and ensure that you have an apartment to come back to in the fall. 
  • You can bring on a roommate for a month or two to generate additional income. Subletting your apartment gives you the flexibility to bring on a roommate, without adding them to your lease.

The Drawbacks of Subletting 

  • A successful sublet depends on finding a good tenant. Finding a subletter can be time-consuming, so be patient and don’t skimp on due diligence.
  • A bad subletter can cost you money if they don’t pay the rent or if they damage the unit. Further, if the subletter breaches the lease agreement, this can lead to not just their eviction, but to your eviction.  
  • You may need to move out your belongings during the sublet period.  If you are subletting to friends or family, then keeping your belongings at the apartment but stored out of site might be feasible.  However, if you are entering a more formal contract with a third party, you may need to move out all of your possessions, which can be both expensive and time-consuming.

How to Sublet an Apartment

Subletting requires communication with numerous parties. The roadmap below can help you navigate the process.  

1. Be Sure That You’re Allowed to Sublet under Your Lease Agreement 

Read the fine print in your rental agreement and search for any sections that reference subletting.  Some leases will forbid subletting altogether, while other leases will contain pre-conditions and approval processes that permit subletting.  If the language in your lease leans heavy on jargon versus plain-English, contact your landlord or property manager and explain why you’d like to sublet, and for how.  If you are in the military and need to sublet your apartment for several weeks or months while away on assignment, you may be entitled to break your lease without penalty if subleasing is not an option.


2. Read Your Renter’s Insurance Policy and Check for Subletting Provisions

Your renter's insurance policy, which pays for damages to your possessions under certain circumstances, might have exceptions or other exclusions if the damage to your belongings occurs when the unit was subleased.  As with your rental agreement, straightforward communication works best.  Contact your insurance company to ensure that your policy will not be voided during the sublet period.  If your roommate or significant other will be moving high-cost furnishings or clothing into the apartment, consider asking them to obtain a renter’s policy to cover their belongings.


3. Take Time to Understand Local Rental Laws

Municipalities vary on how much you can charge an individual to sublease your apartment, be it the entire apartment or just a bedroom.  Do your research to determine if there are any restrictions, especially if you live in a rent-controlled apartment.


4. Sign a Sublet Agreement that Contains All the Key Terms of the Rental Agreement

Treat a sublease agreement just as you would any other business arrangement.  Memories can differ on what was agreed to months down the road, so set out all the key terms of the sublease in an agreement. Pets, damages, rent amount, security deposit, utility split, start and end date of the lease, and any other key provisions, should be captured in the sub-lease. 


5. Post Your Sublet Online and Interview Potential Tenants 

If you’re subletting your apartment to a friend or significant other, then there’s no need to formally advertise your sublet.  However, if you are bringing on a roommate, or are moving out of the apartment for a semester, then you will need to expand your search.  A good place to start is with your personal network— friends, family, coworkers— to see if they know anyone who is looking to take over a lease. Once you’ve looked beyond your personal cirle, posting options include apartment rental sites, social media, and even university newspapers.

Wrapping it All Up

While subletting is often a great option with a happy outcome for all, there are also instances when things can go very wrong.  Ensure that you do your homework and treat subletting like a business transaction to avoid any hiccups.

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