Subletting is a short-term housing arrangement between the current tenant (sublessor) and a temporary occupant — known as the subtenant or subletter. Through subletting, the sublessor rents part or all of their home to the subtenant for a short period of time.
The sublessor is able to collect rent payments on property they aren’t using, while the subtenant can secure a temporary living arrangement. Subletting offers a unique alternative if buying or renting a home doesn’t suit your needs.
Keep reading to find out more about how subletting can solve your short-term housing needs.
What Does Sublet Mean?
To sublet means to rent out your currently leased house or apartment to someone else.
For example, college students often sublet their rooms or apartments if they’re spending a semester studying abroad. The payments received by their subtenants help cover the costs of rent and upkeep on an otherwise unused space.
Subletting for a semester is easier than voiding an original lease, and then needing to find a new place to live after returning.
Sublet vs Sublease
Subletting terminology can be confusing, so let’s define each term.
A sublet refers to the property being temporarily leased as well as the action of leasing your property to a subtenant. For example, a person abroad may say, “I decided to sublet my apartment while I travel.”
A sublease usually describes the sublet agreement itself, but it can also be used as another term for sublet. For example, your apartment lease may state, “Renters are only permitted to arrange a sublease with permission from the landlord.”
How Does Subleasing Work?
Unlike conventional renting, a sublease agreement is separate from any existing rental leases.
While subletting, the subtenant lives in the sublessor’s leased apartment and pays rent to the sublessor. However, it’s the sublessor’s responsibility to continue making timely rent payments to their own landlord.
After deciding to sublet your apartment, it’s time to put a subleasing plan into action:
- Notify your landlord and request written permission to sublet your apartment.
- Create informative advertisements to find a credible, reliable tenant for your sublease.
- Screen all potential tenants for employment, income, references, and criminal records with an employment verification letter and rental application.
- Sign a sublease agreement that includes all relevant terms, including total rent due, length of sublease term, fees, utility payments, and lease provisions.
Figuring out how to sublease an apartment depends on whether you’re the current tenant or subtenant.
Subletting as the Original Tenant
If your name is on the lease agreement for your apartment, you’re the current tenant. Your landlord may allow or forbid sublease agreements, so it’s important to carefully read your lease agreement before you make the decision to sublease.
Once you sign a sublease agreement, you remain fully responsible for paying rent, handling utilities, and keeping your property in good condition. The separate sublease agreement between you and the subletter exists independently of the original lease agreement between you and your landlord.
Subletting as a Subtenant
If you’re seeking (or have been offered) short-term housing from an original tenant, you’ll become the subtenant. The process for you is a little different, with you biggest concern being finding a legitimate, reliable sublet opportunity you can trust.
Follow these steps for subletting success as a subtenant:
- Search for sublet availability on subletting websites like Sublet.com and AirBnb.
- Review the original lease to understand the landlord’s expectations.
- Negotiate your sublease terms to create a fair agreement.
- Photograph and note existing damage in a rental inspection checklist.
- Sign the sublease agreement.
Tips for Subletting a Room
Subletting offers many benefits, like the freedom to travel without losing money or breaking a lease. However, subletting can also be a risky arrangement. Use these tips to make your subletting experience as stress-free as possible.
- Make sure you’re ready to sublet: If you’re the sublessor, make sure you’re comfortable with the idea of subletting a room. Subleasing isn’t a passive arrangement. You’ll need to address problematic behavior with your subtenant.
- Understand the eviction process: As you’re essentially the subtenant’s landlord, you’ll need to be careful, and make sure you understand the eviction process for removing your subtenant for non-payment or inappropriate behavior. You still hold all of the responsibility for the property, because only your name is on the original lease with your landlord.
As the subtenant, it’s essential that you sublet from a credible, trustworthy person. For subletting connections, try asking your:
- social media contacts
By subletting from someone who’s recommended by others, you’ll avoid scams and have a more successful subletting experience.
Sublet vs Rent: What’s the Difference
The biggest difference between renting and subletting is the name on the lease.
When renting, your name is on the lease. You communicate with the landlord and make your monthly rent payments normally. If any problems arise, you’re held personally accountable.
Subletting allows the current tenant to sublet their space to another person for a short term with a separate sublease agreement. The landlord oversees the original lease with the tenant, while that tenant oversees the new sublease with the subtenant.
If you only need a home or apartment temporarily or you’re finding it difficult to commit to a standard 12-month rental lease period, subletting offers a great alternative.