5 Tips for Landlords When Allowing Subletting

By Alicia Geigel on March 9, 2024

As a landlord, you may be considering allowing your tenants to sublet their units. Subletting can be a great way for tenants to find temporary housing while they are away or need extra space.

If you are a landlord or property manager looking for advice regarding subletting or allowing subletting, here are five tips to help you throughout the process.

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1. Vet Potential Subtenants Carefully: Before you jump right into subletting your property to a friend or potential stranger, it’s important to recognize and evaluate the risks of doing so. Subletting your property unit to someone has the potential to go well or go terribly, depending on the tenant. When allowing sublets to a potential tenant you don’t know, you run the risk of being stolen from or even having your property damaged in certain ways. If this sounds like something that you don’t like or perhaps cannot control, allowing sublets may not be for you, and you may want to consider alternate options.

Finding the right person to sublet your property to can be difficult, but remember, just as you would screen any potential tenant, you should also screen potential subtenants carefully. Be sure to check their credit, rental history, and references, and make sure that they are aware of your lease terms and conditions and that they agree to abide by them. After this, you can move forward with asking for a security deposit and getting a signed rental agreement.

2. Help Get a Sublease Agreement in Place: In all cases, your tenant should go through you when they want to sublet their apartment or property unit. After your tenant has found a subtenant and you have thoroughly screened the potential tenant, it is your job to assist them in getting a sublease agreement in place. A sublease agreement is a legal contract between the tenant and the subtenant that outlines the terms and conditions of the sublease, including the rent, the security deposit, the length of the lease, and the subtenant’s responsibilities. Including specific terms and language in your lease between the tenants helps to clear up any miscommunication regarding the subleasing of your space.

3. Charge a Security Deposit: Put simply, a security deposit can help to protect you from any damages that the subtenant may cause to your property, and cover the potential costs of repairs or replacement. A security deposit can also be used to motivate the tenant to comply with the terms of the lease, so it is a good idea all around to include one in your lease agreement. Typically, a security deposit should be equal to one month’s rent, and as you finalize the subtenant agreement, disclose to the potential tenant that you will be charging a security deposit.

4. Ensure That the Subtenant Has Renter’s Insurance: Renting to an individual that you hardly know or don’t have much of a relationship with always runs the risk of leaving your property vulnerable- vulnerable to damages, vulnerable to being stolen, or vulnerable to being tampered with in some way. After doing a thorough walk-through of the unit, instruct your tenant to remove any valuable items from their apartment prior to the subletter moving in. Doing so can eliminate the risk of their items being broken or damaged in any way. Plus, this gives you peace of mind knowing that your property will be mostly protected and that they have your belongings in their possession rather than with the subletter.

Another way to help protect your property is to take before and after pictures of your unit. Just like you obtain before pictures before you rent out a property/unit to a typical tenant, you should prioritize getting “before” pictures of your apartment before the subtenant moves in. Snap pictures of any space that has the potential to be occupied by the person subletting the unit, i.e. the kitchen, living space, bedroom, bathroom, etc. Getting pictures gives you a crystal clear idea of what your property looked like before they moved in, which can make it easier to detect potential damages.

Additionally, another way you can ensure the protection of your property is through renters insurance. Renter’s insurance can protect the subtenant’s belongings in case of a fire, theft, or other covered loss. Before the subtenant moves in, be sure to ask if they have renter’s insurance or not.

5. Be Aware of Your Legal Obligations: In addition to getting the sublease agreement in writing and complying with local laws, there are several legal obligations that you have to fulfill as a landlord when you allow subletting. This includes being transparent with tenants about your subletting policy and the process for screening subtenants, treating subtenants fairly and in accordance with the terms of the sublease agreement, and taking steps to ensure that the subtenant is responsible and that the property is properly maintained. Other obligations can vary based on local and state-level laws and ordinances, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the laws in your area during the process.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to allow subletting comes down to your personal preferences. By carefully following these tips, you can not only protect yourself and your property, but you can also ultimately make an informed decision that fits best for you.

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