Everything You Need to Know About Sublet Your Room

Summer is upon us, and many students are struggling to figure out how to sublet their rooms. Apparently, nobody wants to pay double rent, and the subletting process can be as painful as finals. Based on our survey of 180 students, mostly from the University of Washington, 52% of you who have never sublet before, would sublet if it were easier. Based on conversations we’ve had with many of you who are in the process of subletting, here is everything you need to know about subletting your room.

Step 1: Make sure your landlord is on board.

Most landlords are okay with a room being sublet as long as you can find them a trustworthy tenant, but you should always check with them first, and make sure you get this agreement in writing. Your landlord will probably want the tenant to complete the same application process you did and add their name to the lease or a sublet agreement.

Step 2: Create your listing

A picture is worth a thousand words. A room with a nice photo is more likely to rent out than a room with a messy photo. Think about how you would perceive these two rooms, one that is tidy, with a made up bed; another one with unwashed socks all over on the floor and moldy pizza. Even if all the other features of the rooms are similar, people are more likely to choose the one with the staged photos. Imagine you’re going to post these photos on Instagram (yes, I mean add more light sources if necessary and add some filters).

(Photo source: ROOM DESIGN INSPIRATIONS)

(Photo source: Pinterest)

Step 3: Set the price

Take a look at how much other listings are going for in your area. Be honest about whether these units are more attractive or less and set your price accordingly. The less time you have to find a tenant, the more you’re going to have to lower your price. Most of the participants in our survey found a tenant in less than two weeks. If you still haven’t been able to find a tenant in two weeks, consider lowering your price.

Step 4: Learn how to market your sublet

After you have all these nice photos of your room, you need to start advertising like a pro. What do you think of a long paragraph compared to a brief list of information? It is definitely more straightforward for your tenant to catch key information if you list your room in the following format:

Looking to rent! – A Furnished Master Bedroom From 5/16 – 9/1.

  • Price: $800 (not include utility)
  • Location: 1234 56th Ave, Seattle WA
  • Size: 400 sqft for the room, 1300 sqft for the entire unit
  • Description: the Main bedroom in a 1b1b apartment. 2nd floor. Includes 2 friendly and easygoing female roommates.
  • Transportation: 10 mins walk to UW
  • Appliances: Wifi, Dishwasher, Dryer, Microwave, Oven, Refrigerator, Washer
  • Nearby: Grocery store, restaurants, shops, bars, movie, etc.
  • Parking: $100/mon.
  • Safety: The apartment is managed by UDistrict Square Apartments
  • Deposit: $200 (if needed)
  • Message me! 987-654-3210

Step 5: Spread the word

When you have your nice photo and description done, it’s time to spread the word. Here are some platforms that you should post on.

Craigslist

Craigslist is the most well-known and most active rental/sublet marketplace, which means that scammers also flock to this platform. You should be careful about the leads you get from Craigslist. Please read 5 Tenant Screening Scams and How To Avoid Them.

Facebook Groups

Find housing swap groups like University of Washington (UW) Housing, Sublets & Roommates on Facebook. Many schools have their own housing pages.

Word of Mouth

Just ask your friends. Let them know that you are subletting your room. If any friend’s friend is looking for a summer sublet, then that’s perfect. Also, it is safer to rent to a person that you have a connection with than just a random person online.

Step 6: Chat with the tenant

Once you post your listing, you’ll start getting questions from people who are interested in your unit. Just like when you shop for shoes, your room will not be their only option. Chatting with different tenants and answering the same questions can be annoying. In order to save time, create a “My Listing FAQ.” Anytime someone asks you a question, add that question to your FAQ so that you can send it over to anyone else who is interested in your listing.

Frequently Asked Questions – A cozy one bedroom close to UW

  • Do I have roommates?
    • Yes, I have two other female roommates. They are both quiet and clean.
  • Is the room furnished? If so, what furnitures does it have?
    • Yes. It is all furnished. I have a queen size bed, a desk, a TV and PS4
  • How far is the apartment to UW campus?
    • It is 15 minutes walking. Or you could take 72, 57, 11 buses for 2 stops.

Step 7: Verify the tenant.

You’ll want to pick a tenant is qualified to rent the room. Qualified means a clean criminal background and the ability to pay the rent on time. Oftentimes your landlord will want to do this part. The most common steps are to get a copy of their credit score, get copies of their most recent paystubs or offer letter, and do a criminal background check.

Step 8: Doing the showings

Be honest. if your oven is broken or your neighbor parties every Friday night, tell your tenant in advance. You don’t want to receive complaint messages or calls in the middle of your vacation from your tenant.

Do not do the showings yourself. Do it when your roommate is at home or you have a friend with you.

Step 9: Sign the paperwork

Make sure everything that you guys agreed on is on paper. For instance, whose responsibility if the TV is damaged. As mentioned previously, if your landlord approves your sublet, they’ll probably have a document for them to sign.

Step 10: Help your tenant to check in

This is very close successfully sublet your room. Go to CVS, get a nice card, write something like: “Thanks for subletting the room! Hope you have a lot of fun this summer!” This is a nice touch, and I’m sure, will make your tenant’s day.

If you can’t help your tenant check-in in-person, let say you’ve already left town, you can use a key exchange service, KeyCafe for instance.