Renting out an extra room or subletting your apartment while you’re out of town is an excellent way to secure extra income. As an actor, I’ve spent at least two and a half of the past five years on the road or working out of town. I can’t imagine paying full rent on an apartment I didn’t live in 50% of the time. Luckily, I’ve always managed to sublet my place- whether I’m headed on vacation for a few weeks or out on a job for the better part of a year.
While subletting is hugely beneficial financially, there are reasons to be cautious. You’re leaving your apartment, and presumably, most of your belongings in the hands of another person, so proceed carefully and follow these basic subletting guidelines.
1. Be Upfront With Your Landlord
If I disappeared for a few months and a stranger was going in and out of my apartment, I would hope my landlord would take notice. It’s best to be upfront and let your landlord know what’s going on so that your apartment and the rest of your building are secure.
According to housingnyc.com, “Under New York State law, a landlord cannot unreasonably refuse a request to sublet your apartment (if you have a lease, and reside in a building with four or more units).
If the apartment is rent stabilized, you can sublet for up to two years in any four-year period. If the apartment is not rent stabilized the sublet cannot extend beyond your current lease.
Failure to be careful about choosing a subtenant and seeking your landlords’ permission can lead to financial loss and eviction from the apartment.
2. Find a Trustworthy Subletter
I’ve been lucky enough to find subletters that are almost always within one or two degrees of separation from myself. Facebook is a great tool. Post a status, if your friends don’t need a place, one of their friends may. Facebook groups like Gypsy Housing and Actor Sublet Connection are my other “go to”s when I need a renter (in NYC).
I’ve also had luck using temporary housing sites like Airbnb. While the site often involves international and far removed travelers, payment is received upfront and there is a review system (a la yelp) that can provide some insight into your potential subletter.
Other sites like Craigslist will surely get you lots of responses, but reaching outside of your social network is a bit riskier.
- Be sure to write a thorough description of your apartment, its location and amenities to attract the most prospects. Photos are a MUST…
*In NYC, there are laws restricting sublets of less than 30 days. Be sure your sublet period does not violate the most up to date laws.
3. Connect with your Sublet Prospects
Ideally, you should meet with your subletter to get to know one another and familiarize yourselves with the space and the expectations of how the space should be used and treated. If you can’t meet, you should (at a minimum) chat over the phone to establish a connection and talk through sublet details. You want to make sure your apartment and everything in it will be secure with whoever lives there. Establishing trust, rapport and mutual expectations is paramount.
4. Execute a Sublease with your Tenant.
In addition to a verbal agreement, it’s important to put everything down in writing. A written contract will protect you AND your subletter by detailing each party’s rights and responsibilities.
Here are the basics:
– Include full names of both parties and their respective roles in the contract.
– Identify the property, how it is to be used, and any use restrictions.
Ex. residential purposes only, no roof, garage, etc access.
– Identify the term of the sublease.
Start and end dates.
– State the amount of rent to be paid.
How much, how often, when, how, and to whom. Be sure to include a penalty for late payments.
– Security deposit.
This is essential when subletting your apartment- it’s your insurance policy on your place and all of your things. Be sure to state the amount of the deposit and when it will be returned. Also include reasons the security deposit may be withheld (ex. damage to the apartment or furniture, non payment of rent, utilities, etc).
– Sign and date the contract.
Make sure you both have a copy of the signed contract.