After a whirlwind adventure finding my first sublet, I thought I might help out future subletters by sharing some tips I picked up along the way.
DO check craigslist daily. Listings update every day as things come on and go off the market. You don’t want to miss out on something just because someone else got there first! Side note: I noticed when contacting people via craigslist, it’s a good idea to change the subject line from the generic one it automatically gives you if you just click on the contact information. For whatever reason, I got more responses when I changed the subject of the email to “SUBLET” or something like that.
DON’T be stupid when using craigslist. If something sounds sketchy, trust your gut. Try and get a phone number and talk to someone directly instead of relying just on email. Don’t do anything that involves wiring or sending money…craigslist has a ton of advice on keeping yourself safe.
DO make yourself available to see apartments as soon as possible. My schedule sucked because I couldn’t get work off and could only see places last Sunday. I lost a lot of opportunities because it’s not like someone will reserve a room for you until you see it. I found out the day before I was supposed to see a place that it had already been taken…bummer. Often, I’d email someone and get a response saying, “yeah come by tomorrow” and I couldn’t…do your best to be available. If you really like the place but can’t make it there right away, make it clear that you’re interested and request that they contact you if it’s still available when you can come see it…that’s actually how I found my place!
DON’T make a decision without seeing the place. I visited two apartments on Sunday that I thought both looked promising. One turned out to be not at all what I wanted, despite what I thought from the pictures, and the other was perfect. See it in person.
DO ask a lot of questions. You want to have all your questions answered before you make a decision so there are no surprises on move in day. Questions to ask include:
- Is subletting allowed in the apartment? Sometimes landlords don’t want their tenants subletting, but tenants try to do it anyway. You could easily be thrown out of the apartment if the landlord finds out and then you’ll really be screwed. Ask to see the original lease agreement to be sure.
- How much is rent? What does it include?
- How much are utilities? What is included?
- What is due up front? First month’s rent, a security deposit? Will the security deposit be refunded, and when?
- How do monthly payments work? Who do you give a check to, and when is it due?
- When is the move in date? When is the move out date?
- Is there parking? Do you need a permit?
- Is there laundry in the building? Is it free or coin-operated?
- Is there internet?
- Are pets allowed?
- What is the guest policy?
- How are repairs paid for? Have there been any recent repairs? Are any planned for the near future? How quickly are repairs dealt with?
- Is the room furnished or not?
- Is there a drug store/grocery store nearby?
- What’s the neighborhood like?
- Are there any other rules of the apartment?
- What are the roommates like/what do they do for a living?
Yeah, I was pretty thorough on my question asking, but I’m happy I was! The tenants were happy to answer my questions and now I know just what to expect when I move in.
If you decide you’ve found the right place, it’s a good idea to get the whole agreement in writing. You can find sublet agreements online all over the place…one for Massachusetts can be found here. If you’re looking for another state, just google “subletting contract [state]”.
DON’T limit yourself to craigslist. If you’ve graduated, reach out to your graduating class and your alumni network, maybe someone else needs a roommate for a short time? Send out word on Facebook. message friends and family in the area; even if they don’t have a room for you, they might know someone who does. Utilize all your options!
DO get excited! This was my first time finding a sublet and I’ll be moving out on Monday. MOVING OUT! Not to go to college for a year, not to spend a semester in New York, but to move out of my childhood house and start a big-girl job in a big-girl city. It’s not even real to me yet, but I’m very, very, excited (and a little nervous).