5 Warnings for Those Who
Plan to Sublet for the Summer
home equity articles and tips
If you’re jetting off on a great adventure this summer, you might be considering subletting your home or apartment in order to make a little money instead of leaving an empty house behind. While subletting can be a bit of a risky maneuver, there are many ways to navigate the process and make it pleasant and manageable for you, the subtenant, and your landlord (if you have one). If subletting sounds appealing to you, there are a few things you need to know beforehand, so read on for the major points any subletter should know before they start.
Read Your Lease Very Carefully
Depending on what type of property you own, you need to make sure that you are in fact allowed to sublet your place to others. If you live in an apartment or if you’re renting a home, your lease will give you a good ideas as to whether or not this is permitted. You may even want a friend or family member to read over it as well. If it seems that it is permissible for you to sublet your space, speak with your landlord and also submit a written permission request to sublet. Be very detailed about the specifics of your situation and include the projected beginning and ending dates of the subletting arrangement. Make sure that everything is legal and above board so that you don’t get in trouble with the landlord or owner of the property.
Screen Subtenants Thoroughly
If you have roommates, you absolutely need to speak to them and come to agreement about whether or not subletting is even a possibility. It is ideal to sublet to someone who you already know and trust, but this can also be a bad idea if things go awry while you are gone. If you do not have a reputable friend or family member in mind, you’ll have to ask around to see if anyone within your network knows someone looking for a temporary living arrangement. Your landlord might even be able to allow you to use his or her network of contacts to find a suitable subtenant for the summer. Be sure to request references from anyone that you choose to interview. Diligently follow up on any information that you have. It might seem unnecessary, but if you are subletting to someone you don’t know, you’ll want to run a background check on them and perhaps ask for references. Contact listed references and also be sure to have your chosen subtenant sign a detailed contract. Check your state's guidelines and requirements regarding subtenants and security deposits to decide if you will request one from yours.
If you still use a telephone land line, be sure that it is switched to the name of your subtenant in time for the subletting duration. Do the same with all of your utility bills, and don't forget the cable and internet connections. Otherwise, you might find yourself with some hefty telephone and utility bills in your own name. Left unpaid, these could cause your credit score to go down. It’s not difficult to switch the utilities for a few months, and you can even set it up so that the utilities will go back into your name as soon as you get back.
Take Care of Questionable Maintenance Problems
If you plan to have someone live in your home or apartment for the summer, you need to make sure that you do everything to prevent a disaster while you are gone. This means taking care of any questionable maintenance before you leave. If the roof is caving in, the plumbing is having issues, or you have a pest problem, you can’t leave someone else in the home for three months to deal with these problems. Even if nothing has happened yet, leaving questionable maintenance problems behind could result in a huge disaster in your home when you aren’t there. This will be a huge problem no matter where you are, but can be especially tricky if you are out of the country and tough to reach during the summer. Don’t take your chances—get any current or potential problems in the home taken care of before you take off for the summer.
Manage Prized Possessions
Use common sense and take prized possessions with you, or put them into storage for the duration of the subletting time period. For example, if you have an expensive rug, you may want to roll it up and store it, rather than run the risk of it being stained by a food or beverage spill. Even if your subtenants are trustworthy, accidents happen, and your property could get inadvertently destroyed while you are gone. If there is anything out in the open that you highly value, put it into storage or in a safe to ensure that nothing happens to it. Taking preventative measures will help you avoid any problems with the subtenant when it comes to damages.
Record Documentation of Your Space
Protect yourself and take photographs and/or videos of the space before your subtenant moves in. Ideally, your subtenant will treat the space with integrity and decency, but it is always best to try to cover all bases and be better safe than sorry. Getting pictures before the tenant moves in for the summer will provide you with support and proof if anything goes wrong while you are gone—any damage done to the home can be seen clearly in “before and after” photos, so if the subtenant damages any part of the home and refuses to pay for it, you have proof that it was their fault.
Try to establish a friendly and respectful relationship with your subtenant and maintain a smooth one with your landlord and any roommates. With a little research, preparation, and effort, the subletting experience can be very beneficial for anyone who plans to leave for the summer and make a little money at the same time. Don’t jump into subletting too quickly—you need to clear the situation with anyone who will be involved and make sure that everything is done above board and professionally. Even if you’re subletting to a family member, you need to cover your bases and be sure that everything is properly taken care of.
AUTHOR BIO: This article was written by Dixie Somers, a freelance writer who loves to write about business, finance, women’s interests, and the home niches. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Dixie got her advice on home maintenance before subletting from the professionals of United Roofing, who specialize in roofing in Calgary. They suggest that you repair or replace your roof before subletting your home for the summer if your roof is old or sagging.
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