The Dos and Don’ts of Subletting

24 Mar, 2013

Are you subletting your apartment this summer? Whether you’re off to a fast-paced internship in New York City, heading home to a stress-free vacation with mom and dad, or flying over to Europe for your own Eurotrip, The Bull & Bear has a few dos and don’ts to help you find a tenant you won’t have to worry about.

DO sign a lease or contract. If you’re renting out to a stranger or someone you have no way of tracking down, have a written agreement signed to avoid confusion. The agreement should include the dates of subletting, the amount charged, everyone’s signature and full names. It would be wise to explicitly state that the sub-tenant is responsible for any damages done to the apartment.

DO ask for a security deposit. This is a backup insurance as well as a source of motivation for the sub-tenant to respect your space and furniture.

DO set a list of rules. Some important details you want to work out beforehand include: Are pets allowed? Are guests allowed? Are parties allowed? Is smoking allowed? Make sure to include any additional conditions in the contract.

DO decide the method of payment and due date beforehand. Both parties should agree on how to pay and when to expect payment. This might be a monthly online transaction or a one-time cash exchange. Having an agreement will stop you from panicking halfway across Canada or worst, halfway across the world, about paying rent.

DO have a way to store your personal belongings. Even if it is just one box of personal or valuable belongings, it’s probably best to leave it with a trusted friend rather than in your room where anyone, the sub-tenant or their friends, could access it.

DO beware of scams. Scammers typically respond quickly to your advertisement and generally do not ask for any pictures, questions, or details about the apartment. Trust your instincts; if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. For more information about scams, go to: http://www.mcgill.ca/students/housing/offcampus/beware-e-mail-scams

DO figure out how utilities will be paid. You might choose to include it in the rent so that the sub-tenant pays a single amount. If not, changing the name on the utilities bill to the name of the sub-tenant would make life a lot easier. All it takes is one call to the utility company.

DON’T let them move in without meeting them first. First impressions are very important and you should feel that the other party is responsible and reliable before letting them stay in your apartment. If you have roommates or housemates, this is a good chance to let them meet other. After all, you would not want to be stuck with a messy, unclean person for an entire summer and neither would your roommates. If you are subletting while you are away from Montreal, see if you can get a friend to meet them instead.

DON’T leave your apartment a mess before the other person moves in. This is just common courtesy; you would expect the same if you moved into someone else’s place. Your belongings should be tucked away nicely, the dishes neatly in the cupboard—not the kitchen sink— and the bathroom should be spotless. A tidy place tells the subtenant what you expect when you come back.

DON’T show up to your place unannounced. Once the agreement has been signed, you are no longer paying the rent. If you need to grab something, have the courtesy to let the subtenant know ahead of time.

DON’T expect your subtenant to not use your stuff. They will be living in your home and they will use everyday essentials like dishes, utensils, and linens. Pack away anything that you do not want them to use. If that special coffee mug is what you need to get through midterms, hide it away safely. If you do pack your dishes and sheets, just remember to let the person know that they need to bring their own.

Finally, you should try to make your advertisement as informative as possible. Generally speaking, having at least one clear picture with good lighting will increase the chance that someone will respond to your ad. Common places where people put their ads are: McGill’s Off-Campus Housing online listings, McGill Classified Ads, Concordia’s Off-Campus Housing Service, Craigslist, and Kijiji Classifieds.

If subletting seems too grueling for you, check out “Flatbook.” “Flatbook” is a McGill student start-up that takes care of the entire subletting process for you. For more information, visit: http://www.flatbook.ca/

Good luck with subletting this summer!

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