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How to Sublet Your Apartment

When nearly 60 percent of your paycheck goes to rent each month, you’d be crazy to let your place sit unoccupied if you need to leave temporarily.

Subletting is a way of life in New York City — for both you and the subletter. Here’s how to sublet your NYC apartment.

Find a subletter

There are several ways to advertise your sublet. For many, word of mouth is the most appealing because it increases the likelihood that you find a trustworthy subletter. Other similar channels include email and social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+).

If you want to cast a wider net, there are several online options, including Craigslist, the Listings Project, and SpareRoom, but of course, you are going outside of your network and taking your chances on who you will attract, so you need to be extra cautious.

When you advertise your place, be sure to include:

  • Quality photos of the apartment
  • Exact dates of the sublease
  • Request for references
  • Financial requirements for subletting your space
  • Request for their employment history

Interview the candidates. Ask why they want to sublet. If you are leaving your stuff there, this person is going to be living in your home, using your towels and touching all your stuff. Do you really want to some anonymous face from the Internet have the run of your home if you are unsure of them? If the candidate does not live in New York City yet, schedule a Skype date.  It’s totally fair to be demanding and their cooperation with your requests should indicate their level of commitment to being a good subletter.

Above all else, request a security deposit from your subletter and the first month’s rent before they move into your apartment and before you leave town.

Talk to your landlord

As long as you are proactive and responsible about informing your landlord of your intentions, he should have no cause to prevent you from subletting your apartment. According to New York State law, you are legally entitled to request to sublet your apartment from your landlord. In turn, he is not allowed to unreasonably refuse your request.  That said, the length of your sublet must exceed at least 30 days and must not extend past two years in a four-year time period.

Here’s how to make your sublet request to your landlord:

Thirty days before you would like the sublet to begin, send a certified letter with a return-receipt request to your landlord that contains a new sublease agreement with your subtenant. You can get a boilerplate version of one these for free online. Include the following:

  • The length of the sublease
  • The people involved (i.e., you and your subtenant)
  • The name, home and business of the proposed subtenant
  • Your reason for requesting a sublease
  • The approval of your guarantors, if applicable
  • The amount of rent your subtenant will pay you
  • An outline of the security deposit agreement you and your subtenant have negotiated.

Your landlord has to respond within 10 days and could respond with requests for additional information.  If the requests are legitimate and reasonable, you must provide the additional information. If your landlord does not respond to your request within 30 days, his silence can be deemed as approval.

Keep in mind that you are nonetheless still on the lease and will be liable for all damages done to the apartment and will be financially responsible for the rent each month.  That’s why it is crucial to find a subletter you can trust and more importantly, to get a security deposit from them.


Prepare your apartment

Remove all valuables, fragile items and anything you don’t want stolen or destroyed. While you should trust this person in your home, you should also take basic precautions.

  • Clean and cleared. Show your subtenant that you care about your home and that they should take equal care of it in your absence. Depending on what you have arranged with your subtenant, you may need to clear out space in the closets and dresser drawers as well as supply sheets and towels.  Make sure you have those arrangements in order prior to vacating the apartment and make sure you are adequately compensated for whatever expenses you incur in purchasing new sheets or towels.
  • Leave contact info. Leave your contact information as well as numbers for your super, landlord, the management company and even a neighbor – lest anything go wrong while you’re gone. And lastly, make sure you’ve paid all your cable, electricity and gas bills and set up auto-payment for upcoming transactions.


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