Make Subletting a Breeze for Your Residents: Do's and Don'ts

By Elizabeth Hilfrank on July 1, 2017

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The summer is a peak season for apartment complexes, especially if the apartment building is located near a college. Students living in the area for the school year may leave for the summer, while other students may trickle in for internships. This schedule change leads to a lot of changes with roommates, and the sublet strategy comes into main view.

If you are a property manager in a college area, be prepared for confused students trying to figure out their payments.

The sublet debate is a strong one. While there are many advantages to letting residents offer out their rooms, there are also some disadvantages and law enforcements; a property manager has to be careful.

Allowing subletting will make your building more attractive for students. Knowing that they have the option to find someone to pay for the room when they are not there is a definite incentive to choose one building over another, and they will be more willing to keep their lease if they know they can get other people to contribute. Yet for you as the property owner, you now take the risk of allowing a student to be an intermediate between you and the subtenants.

Keeping the property occupied will minimize the risk of criminal activity, prevent big maintenance issues from creeping up, and it will keep your income flowing. This will only happen, however, if you can be sure that the subtenant is of good standing.

To get the best out of the sublet situation for both you and your residents, help the students out. Even though you may not work as closely with the subtenant, you can still get to know them. This will bring more trust to everyone involved.

First and foremost, make sure your sublet policy is clear right from when your student resident signs his lease. Even if the conversation of subletting has not been brought up yet, it’s good to be ahead. By doing this, you will prevent your resident from going behind your back, which could lead to eviction and more problems than you don’t want to have.

In this part of the lease make sure to state what you wish your role in the sublet process to be. You may choose to be heavily involved and have the subtenant pay you directly, or you may choose to use the usual resident as the liaison. Make sure the student knows what you want. Include aspects such as requiring that you give written permission prior to the sublet being accepted, stating that a tenant screening and/or credit check will still be necessary for the sublet, requiring a security deposit, and any other fine details that may otherwise get ignored.

Develop a sublease agreement form for the resident to use if he chooses to sublet for a portion of his lease. That way, you know what the agreement is and what exactly is going on because you have chosen the guidelines. This will be easier for a student going through the process for the first time as well.

If a resident comes to you about subletting, be open to the conversation. The best way to help is to be available. It is important that he or she feels comfortable asking questions because then there is less chance for confusion.

If a student decides to sublet, work with them to find someone. Make sure the student understands what his role as the middleman is. Perform your normal screening process with the candidates and do a credit check as well. This will prevent you from getting in trouble, and it will keep the student out of a potentially dangerous situation.

Encourage your resident to take precautions when choosing to sublet. Tell him to take pictures of the apartment prior to leaving so that if anything happens over the summer, he can confirm that the subtenant is the one responsible for paying for the damage. Check in on the subtenant over the course of his stay so as to avoid any misconduct. Notify the current resident if problems arise.

Another way to help a student with the sublet process would be to keep a list of people who have come to look at the building as a possible home. If some people have come in search of short-term housing, and you do not have it, then keep them on a sort of “wait-list” in case a sublet situation comes up. That way, you know you have good options.

When a semester wraps up, send a reminder to all of your residents about your sublet protocol.

For many students, finding someone to take over the apartment for a few months will be a new challenge they have never faced before. So, make it a team effort. Be clear in your rules, offer help as needed, be available, and the end result will be a positive one.

By Elizabeth Hilfrank

Uloop Writer
Gettysburg College
I'm a junior at Gettysburg College with a self-designed major called Writing and Performing Media, and I am a Spanish minor. When I'm not studying, I'm probably running with the cross country or track team, hanging out with my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, looking at pictures of my dog or eating (mostly desserts). I love all things journalism, and I have a strong passion for storytelling.

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