2017 Bay Area and Seattle Student Summer Sublet Research

  • Scammers make relocating hard
  • Student subletters are finding tenants offline instead of online a large percentage of the time
  • The UW summer sublet market is hot, so it should be easy to find tenants with a good posting
  • Landlord approval/support makes subletting much easier for students
  • Most listings are up within two months of availability, with many posted last minute
  • Students are paying between $500 and $800 per month in rent in the U-district

We posted two surveys this summer. The first was targeted at interns moving for summer internships, mostly in the Bay Area. We targeted the second at students subletting their rooms for the summer, mostly in the Seattle area. These surveys attempt to get at what the problems these two groups of people face and we learned a few things that are shared here.

Finding temp housing is hard

We surveyed 132 interns, mostly in the Bay Area, who were looking for housing for summer 2017. What we found was that, unless you were provided corporate housing, finding a place to live over the summer was hard. This seems obvious, after all the Bay Area is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country. But we thought that having a housing stipend would help, and it did, but not much. Here’s how hard people without stipends rated finding housing on a scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being easy and 5 being very difficult:
barchart showing how difficult it is to find housing without a stipend
And here’s how hard people with stipends rated finding housing:
barchart showing how difficult it is to find housing with a stipend
Our survey indicates that price and location are very important, but by interviewing participants, we found something even more important. Trust.

Tenants are worried about getting scammed

Almost all of the interns we interviewed said they ran into multiple scammers. By scammer, they meant someone who did not have a real listing, who was after their money and/or identity. This is the problem that Roomlet will attempt to address.

What does the sublet market look like at the University of Washington?

Tinna wrote a great article here about the steps one should take to sublet a room. Here, I’ll stick to talking about the major takeaways from our subletting survey.

Many people are finding tenants offline

We only advertised our survey on Facebook, so it was no surprise that 54% of successful subletters said that they had found tenants through Facebook groups. What was surprising was that the second biggest source of tenants were offline friend referrals and social connections at 29%, followed by Craigslist at 10%.

It’s a seller’s market

Listings get a lot of interest, 53% of successful subletters received five or more responses for their listing. But on average only two of those people got to see the listing before it was let.pie chart
Most successful subletters took less than 15 days from when they started looking to find a tenant.pie chart subletter time to find tenant

You’re more likely to sublet if your landlord is supportive

Over 60% of successful subletters had some help from their landlord. Usually, the subletter finds a tenant, and then passes him or her off to the landlord to do a background check, get on the lease, and pay rent.

Security Deposits

Subletters didn’t tend to charge a security deposit to tenants, 54% charged nothing, the rest charged one month’s rent. This may or may not be justified, depending on how risk averse you are, since 93% of subletters reported no damage to their units.pie chart

When to post/when to look?

Most people, 66%, are posting within two months of when a room is available for move-in, with a surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, large percentage posted last minute or less than a month from when the listing is available.
pie chart


Average rent in the UW area (for one student) is somewhere between $500 and $800.
pie chart