Know rules for a successful sublease

by Tom Simplot

Apr 11, 2014

Most renters sign a yearlong lease, but there are lots of circumstances in which a renter needs to leave home for a couple of months. At the same time, summer interns often need a short-term lease, which can be tough to find.

When done correctly, subleasing can be a viable option for both parties.

In bigger cities like New York and Boston, subleasing an apartment is common. In Arizona, subleasing requires some due diligence on the part of the renter, who is still on the hook for the legal contract. To find a tenant to take over your lease, you need to use caution and be sure to do this legally.

Here are some tips:

• Check with your apartment manager or landlord to see if you are allowed to sublet your apartment or home. If you rent a condo, there may be HOA rules as well. Get the new tenant to sign all of the proper documents to protect both parties.

• Decide whether or not you will require a security deposit. Some wear and tear is normal, but a deposit will at least mitigate some damage if it occurs. Asking for first and last month's rent is also permitted. Be sure to stipulate all of this in the sublet documents.

• If you're subletting a furnished apartment, be sure your renters insurance is up to date and require your sublet tenant to get insurance as well. Then, photograph and inventory all of the major furniture and any existing damage. Ask your sublet tenant to sign the checklist.

• Finding the right tenant is key. Ask good questions and check references. Younger tenants may not have enough credit history to gauge if they will be a good tenant, but find out about their employment and credit history.

• Decide if your new tenant can bring his or her pets, and find out if these pets require another deposit or contract.

With a little planning, subletting can be a great deal for you and your renter.