By Sheila O’Hearn
Subletting your shared off-campus accommodations over the summer serves as a practical way
to “hold” your tenancy until you return to college or university. Subletting you Edmonton condo
or townhouse can spare you that heart-racing scramble year-after- year for a place to reside, study, and
enjoy student life. Subletting involves a tenant with a fixed-term lease and moves out temporarily
from the rental unit, allowing another person to move in for a specific period of time.
The summer months prove a popular time for students to sublet to other students.
Here are 10 subletting tips to ensure a smooth and trouble-free transition.
1. Lease allowance to sublet
This first step is crucial: As a tenant, don’t sign your lease agreement until you read and
understand the fine print, and check for a clause that might disallow subletting. If that item is
included in your agreement, ask the landlord to remove it. Let your proprietor know your need to
sublet short-term. Without the landlord’s agreement or prior knowledge on this point, and if you
go ahead and sublet without proper authorization, you are violating the lease agreement. This
violation could be grounds for eviction not only for you, but also for the tenant to whom you had
subleased your unit.
On the other hand, if you find yourself in the unforeseen position of having to sublet, but you
signed a lease agreement that disallowed this practice, don’t panic. Make a request in writing to
your landlord or property manager, explaining your sudden circumstances.
Note also that maintaining a good relationship with your landlord might place you in good stead
for your request to sublet. If you make it your practice to show you have taken care of your
accommodation inside and out, have always paid rent on time, or if you’ve gone the extra mile
by taking a shovel to your walkway in winter, for instance, and any other little touches you can
think of, your landlord will be more likely to consider your appeal.
2. Check preferred landlords through the university
You might save some time, as a result. Every campus has a Student Housing Office, or Office of
Student Living, where you can find valuable accommodation information. Inquire about
landlords that rent to students exclusively. They tend to understand student needs better than
regular landlords, and may allow for subletting.
If you successfully sublet, you’re not off the hook for being responsible for rent. In most case
scenarios, the subtenant pays rent to you as the sub-lessor, who, in turn, pays the landlord or
property manager. Sometimes the landlord may allow the subtenant to pay them directly. A clear
discussion with the landlord will help clear up what’s expected of you.
4. Compatibility & pre-screening
Because, you, as the original tenant, are still responsible for ensuring the landlord receives rent
on time, you want to be selective about who will be standing in for you as a sub-letter. You’ll
also want to ensure that the candidate is a good fit for your house- or apartment-mates. Carefully
screen your applicants, therefore; it’s good practice to have the potential renter meet and sit
down with your roomies and vote jointly. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with someone who
doesn’t share the same values, standards of cleanliness, or sense of financial responsibility as you
and your mates. Asking for references and actually checking them out are strongly
5. Fair rent
While the laws can vary from city to city, in most areas you cannot charge the sub-tenant more
rent than you are paying. Greed is never an ethical practice. Be fair and honest, and remember
how much you appreciated any kindness and fair play you received in your efforts to find the
right unit. Pay that kindness forward.
6. Lease splitting
For simplicity’s sake, it’s recommended you keep to the same agreement you had with one or
more roommates, such as splitting rent equally or unequally, depending on whether you used less
or more of a unit’s square footage. Many students who rent and have full access to a house will
tend to pay equally. So, make any stipulations about living arrangements clear to your potential
tenant in advance of short-term lease-signing. Recommendation: What you paid, the new
“tenant” should pay. Simple.
7. Sub-tenant contract
A signed contract is not a must, but best practices note that the new tenant’s signature means
they agree with clearly written expectations and agreements. That signature protects you, your
sub-letter and your house-mates.
8. The contract should include the following:
- Sublet dates
- Rental amount
- Method of rent payment and to whom
- Number of people living in the unit
- Clear terms for maintenance and chores, or damage to the unit
For guidelines, simply use the original lease you signed with your landlord. In fact, best practices
dictate that a copy of the lease agreement currently held between you and your landlord should
be attached to the sublet agreement between you and your sub-letter. That way sub-renters know
and understand the terms to which they are agreeing.
9. Take your valuables with you
Before you vacate, make sure you remove anything personal or valuable. Though short-term,
your tenant is taking possession of occupancy, so ensure that the room, apartment or your share
of the house, including bathroom(s), are clean and in move-in condition for the next occupant.
This practice is considerate, while demonstrating tenant expectations.
10. Additional information
- Landlord Tenant Board
The Landlord Tenant Board directs you to your legal obligations as a sub-landlord and
provides useful definitions and explanations about subletting and reassigning tenancies.
- Off-Campus Housing Office
Many university websites may link you to a sublet agreement form and provide answers
to your subletting questions.
Zoocasa is a real estate brokerage based in Toronto.
Sheila O’Hearn is a freelance and creative writer, and has worn many hats throughout her career, from general staff reporter to magazine editor. She has a keen interest in business entrepreneurship and currently writes for several outlets. Visit her at LinkedIn for more info.