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How to sublet your home

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

Rent it so you don’t lose money

Whether you’re going on vacation for a week or moving to a new place, you may want to consider subletting while you’re gone to offset costs. Find out what to consider and how to sublet your apartment or house.
Woman handing over keys to home

Subleasing your home may make some people uneasy (strangers sleeping in your bed?) but it’s a great way to offset the cost of a move or vacation. Plus, it’s easy to do -- and you can require that your temporary tenants provide their own sheets.

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Step 1: Approve it

If you own your home, then you can do whatever you like, but if you are renting, then check on your lease to see if there is a clause about subletting. Even if it's allowed, it’s good to check in with your landlord to let them know that you’ll be out of town and are planning on renting out your space.

Step 2: Price it

Next, determine a fair price to charge for the sublease. An easy way to do this is to divide your rent by 30 – this will give you the approximate per diem rate, and you can multiply it by the number of days you will be gone. Don’t forget to add in utilities, which you can estimate based on the average that you pay.

Step 3: List it

Decide how you’d like to get the word out about your available sublease. An email to friends, family, and/or coworkers is a good place to start -- it’s always nice when you have some connection to your subletter. If that doesn’t yield any leads, then it’s time to widen your net. Post on websites like Craigslist or Airbnb, or in the classified section of your local newspaper. Be sure to list the rent and amount of time it’s available, and include photos if possible.

Step 4: Show it

Once you have at least one person interested, they will want to see the space and you will want to meet them. Arrange a time when they can come by the apartment to check it out. This is a great time to show them any quirks of the place (that stove that needs to be manually lit or the TV remote that has stuck buttons).

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Step 5: Agree on it

Once you have someone to sublet your place, it’s good practice to have a written agreement or sublease that lays out in concrete and detailed terms how long the rental is, what’s included, etc. It can be a simple paper that you both sign or you can get a lawyer to draw it up for you, whatever makes you more comfortable.

Step 6: Pay for it

Even if you know the person subletting, it’s a good idea to get at least a security deposit from them up front, as well as a portion (if not all) of the rent. The deposit will help cover damages if necessary and can be returned once the apartment is found to be in good condition. If you don't own, make sure that you have paid the rent to your landlord before you leave.

Step 7: Clean it

Before you head out, make sure that the apartment is spic and span. You want it to be in the same condition that you’d like the subletter to return it. Make sure that the fridge is cleaned out, the bathroom is sparkling, you’ve taken out the garbage, and you haven’t left any dirty laundry in the hamper. Depending on the situation and how long the rental is for, you may want to empty your closet so they have a place to store their clothes. And, unless agreed upon, don’t leave pets for them to take care of!

Step 8: Sublet it

Once everything is set, arrange a time to give the subletter keys. Leave a note or explain in person anything they might need to know about the apartment or neighborhood. Provide your contact information in case they have an emergency. And don’t come home early or unannounced -- it’s their place for the time you agreed upon.

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