Follow These 6 Steps to Get Your Apartment Subletter Ready

published Oct 7, 2022
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Travel is always a good idea, whether it’s finally going on that long-awaited trip to Europe or heading home to see family. But when you go away for more than a few days — like, say, at least a month — traveling means that you need to do some planning, too. Usually, subletting your home seems like the best option.

You may have found a subletter for your pad to recoup some of your travel costs, but readying your space isn’t as simple as handing over the keys. To help streamline the process, check off these six important steps before you bid farewell to your abode.

Sign a Subletter Agreement

Even if your subletter is a dear friend, it’s always a good idea to put terms in writing to make sure everyone’s on the same page. If legalese isn’t your first language, don’t worry — there are helpful templates online that you can edit and download. These will prompt you for information about start and end dates, the rent and security deposit, utilities, and all that good stuff.

Give Them the Grand Tour

A picture’s worth a thousand words, but it won’t explain where you’ve stashed the extra linens. Set up an in-person tour or video call with your subletter, depending on where they’re based, so they feel more acquainted with your home and know what to expect when they walk through the door.

This also gives you the opportunity to highlight any idiosyncrasies — an electrical socket that’s out of commission or a door that sticks, for example — and answer questions they may have. If they’re sharing common areas with your roommates, this can serve as the official meet-and-greet, too.

Send Over Key Information

As a follow-up to the tour, send over any information that your subletter may need to reference more than once. This may include instructions about where they can find the keys — keeping them in a lockbox is an easy solution if you don’t have a friend who can drop by — how to get on the Wi-Fi network, and when to take the trash and recycling out.

If you’re expecting your subletter to pet sit or tend to your plants, you’ll definitely want to leave details about how to care for them. To help your subletter settle in, you might want to drop some local recommendations, too, like the best place for pizza delivery or your favorite neighborhood dive.

Clean Up and Make Room

No one wants to be greeted with a mess or questionable smells, so be sure to give your space a thorough cleaning before you leave. Hang up fresh towels, wash the bedding, wipe down surfaces, and sweep or vacuum the floors. As you make your way through the apartment, be sure to clear areas for your subletter to use, such as closet and dresser space for clothes or bathroom shelves for toiletries. For a friendly touch, leave a welcome note and snacks or beverages somewhere prominent.

Secure Sensitive Documents and Valuables

Sure, you’ve vetted your subletter, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea to leave your passport out on your nightstand or your passwords scrawled on a Post-It. Maybe the person moving in has a pet or child, and you want to protect an antique rug that’s literally hanging on by a thread. As a rule of thumb, whatever you’re not comfortable with your subletter using or seeing should be removed or secured, whether it’s locked in a filing cabinet or tucked into a storage area.  

Make an Extra Set of Keys

The last thing you want to deal with when you’re away is a misplaced or broken set of keys. Keep an extra set somewhere accessible, like in a lockbox or with a neighbor, just in case.

The most important tip of all, however, is to communicate. Make yourself available to answer any questions that come up, and let your subletter know if anything changes — maybe your return flight is delayed and you need them to feed Fido for one more night, or you mistakenly get a package delivered while you’re traveling. Check in periodically, and you’ll be sure to have a smooth subletting experience.