A Guide to a Successful Apartment Sublet

Opting for an apartment sublet over signing a lease from scratch can bring the benefits of convenience and affordability. Tenants often sublet their apartments when they've signed a lease but can't stay for the full term and subletters take their place, often without paying many of the upfront costs such as realtor fees. Subletting an individual room from an entire apartment is a great option if you don't have the means to live alone but can't find roommates to bring onboard for a lease. Either way, subletting can pose a certain degree of uncertainty, so be sure to take the proper measures to strictly define the terms of your sublet and looks for ways to get the most out of the experience. 

Document It

Your first priority when subletting should be to protect yourself. Subletting implies that you aren't on the official lease created by the landlord, but you should still carefully define your living terms and conditions with the person you are subletting from directly. Both parties should sign paperwork indicating the exact rent price, terms, date payable, amenities and penalties if any of the conditions are broken. This will stand up as an official document if anything goes awry. Many landlords or management companies don't officially allow subletting, so be sure to know exactly what you are getting yourself into as far as this goes. If subletting is legal, make sure you make connections with the landlord or management so you know how to go about requesting maintenance or dealing with regular complications that come with any apartment. Subletting illegally isn't a great idea, but if you do choose to go along with it, be sure to discuss with the person you're subletting from how they plan to navigate the situation if anything goes wrong. 


Those subletting their apartments or rooms are often on a tight deadline for getting someone to take their place, leaving the tenants with a lot of potential bargaining power. If you're not ready to move in by the first of the month but don't want to pay for an entire month's rent, try to work out a deal to pro-rate the rent for the number of days you will be living there the first or last month. Many tenants wish to leave behind furniture, so try to work the furnishings into your rent price or purchase them altogether. This is a much cheaper alternative for furnishing an entire room or apartment than buying everything brand new is. 

Know What to Expect

If you're subletting an entire apartment, be sure to do as much research on the building, management, landlord and neighborhood ahead of time. Understand the procedures for paying utilities, submitting maintenance requests and handling emergencies before you move in. If you're subletting a single room from an apartment, roommates are an additional major factor to consider. Ideally, visit with them several times before officially deciding to move in, so you can get a fuller sense of their personalities and how you get along with them. Set guidelines for splitting utilities, apartment expenses and cleaning responsibilities. 

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