Your job has you relocating to another city for a few months and you don’t want to give up your amazing Rittenhouse Square apartment or your row-home studio with its roof deck and balcony. Some leases in Philly allow subletting, meaning another person can live in the apartment and pay rent while you travel or work elsewhere. When you sublet your place, you’re essentially becoming a landlord but are still responsible for the terms of the lease.
Can You Sublet?
Before you put up an ad on Craigslist or at the off-campus housing sites for the University of Pennsylvania or Drexel University, read over your lease to make sure your landlord actually allows you to sublet. Most leases will let you sublet, but require you to get written permission from the landlord first. Never sublet an apartment without getting consent from the property owner. It won’t end well for you or the sublessee. Avoid offering a sublet to someone that is longer than the length of your lease. If you have three months left on the lease and are planning on leaving the apartment for good at that time, don’t allow a four- or five-month sublet.
You’re Still Responsible
When subletting in Philadelphia, it’s essential to remember that you’re still on the hook when it comes to the lease. If your subtenant doesn’t deliver the rent money to you each month, you’ll have to find a way to pay the landlord or risk having him or her start the eviction process.
Put on your landlord hat when subletting and check out each applicant for the apartment. This isn’t the time to trust your gut. Run a credit check on any potential sublessees to make sure they aren’t behind on payments and that they don’t have a history of missing payments or paying late. Ask for references from each person, preferably from past landlords or roommates who can vouch for the person’s trustworthiness when it comes to paying rent and not destroying an apartment.
Put Everything in Writing
When you sublet a place, you need to be sure that you and your landlord are on the same page and that you and the sublessee are on the same page. The best way to do that is to have every agreement put in writing. Have your landlord type up his or her consent to the sublet. Create a written contract between you and the subtenant. The contract should state the length of the sublet, the amount of rent the subtenant will pay, and provide information about a security deposit and late fees, if applicable. You can fill in the blanks on a sample sublease contract to make things easier. Provide the subtenant with a copy of the original lease, too.
Before you leave the apartment and the subtenant moves in, go through the premises together and make note of anything that is already damaged. If your sublessee ends up breaking anything or damaging the paint on the walls, you’ll have a record of what was an issue before you moved out. Consider switching off the utilities if they are in your name for the months when you won’t be in the apartment. The subtenant can establish his or her own accounts for the time he or she spends living there. If you are subleasing a furnished apartment, remember to take anything valuable with you, to avoid having it broken or stolen while you’re gone.
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