Chances are, if you need a subletter, it's because you've got to make a move—stat. But finding a solid replacement—one who makes those rent payments on time and doesn't completely disrupt the roommate ecosystem—can be tough, especially if you're under a time crunch. Before you launch a frenetic search on Craigslist, though, here are some expert tips to help you easily find a reliable subletter.
1. Check with your landlord or leasing office
Actually, this is the best place to begin when you're looking for a subletter. That's because state laws surrounding subletting vary and since your leasing agreement may have its own special set of clauses, it's a good idea to check in so you CYA (Cover. Your. Synonym for donkey).
"One of the best ways to make the subletting process easy is to involve the current landlord of the apartment," says Mark Steele, a broker and real estate coach. "I have connected with tenants who hid a subletter from their landlord, only to have damage done to the unit and the blame fall solely on them as the primary tenant. If the tenant and the landlord are on the same page and cooperate with one another, the process can run very smoothly."
But beyond the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with the assurance you won't be sued or held responsible for a subletter's late payment, your landlord or leasing office may have qualified renters on a waiting list. The odds, of course, are more likely to be in your favor in a city where rental vacancies are low. Nationwide, rental vacancies are at 6.8 percent, which is down from 7.3 percent this time last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Rental vacancies are lowest in the west and northeast, according to the data.
2. Check in with the HR office at your job
Oftentimes, interns who are on a semester or summer rotation may be in need of short-term housing, points out Shawn Breyer, the owner of Breyer Home Buyers, a real estate company in Georgia. Coordinating with your company's HR office to help provide housing can be a win-win solution, says Breyer, who knows from experience. "We got in touch with the HR director and asked her to send our information out to the incoming interns when they accepted a position," he says. "It worked great for the interns because they had trouble renting apartments due to most apartments requiring a one-year lease." Plus, many times interns get housing stipends so they have a reliable source of rent income.
3. Expand your search beyond Craigslist
Certainly Craigslist can be a great place to conduct a search-and-rescue for your lease. But, you don't have to limit your search there. Agent Alex Lavrenov of Warburg Realty in New York City, who has experience with lease breaks and sublets, recommends perusing websites like LeaseBreak.com, Sublet.com, and SpareRoom, and posting in Facebook groups and Facebook Marketplace. Once you find a potential subletter on one of these sites, Lavrenov recommends doing some pre-screening to make sure the individual will meet the landlord's credit and income guidelines. Another option is to try Flip, which can assist with the whole subletting process, which includes finding you qualified subletters, signing legal documents, and collecting rent. The service is free for listers.
4. Spread the word on social media
One of the best ways to quickly find a subletter is to leverage your social media accounts to get the word out, says Amanda Chvatal, a broker with Spaces Real Estate in Chicago, Illinois, that specializes in leasing. Go ahead, nudge your friends and family members to share your posting. "A friend of your aunt Betty's niece could be looking for a temporary place just like your apartment," Chvatal says.
5. Hold an open house
If there's a lot of interest in your space, heck, hold an open house and let the best subletter win. "Offering an open house is a great way to be efficient and effective in getting potential subletters in your space and likely securing one, if not multiple, applicants," Chvatal says. When advertising your space, take a cue from your Bumble profile and put up photos that are flattering, yes, but also realistic.
6. Offer a discount
If you're having a tough time finding a reliable subletter, and the clock is ticking, consider offering a discount on your space, suggests Adam James, also a broker with Spaces Real Estate. Knocking $100 or $200 from the monthly rent might make the sublet more attractive, he explains. That way, you're not getting charged for breaking your lease or on the hook for the full monthly rental amount.