Swamp Talk: So You Need to Find a Subleaser

By Mallory Schindler

I graduate in less than a month (WHAT.). That’s great, except for one little thing – my apartment lease goes through next August. This is because the Gainesville apartment companies are the spawn of Satan, do not allow partial leases – and they hate me. I absolutely have to find a subleaser, or I will be paying for an apartment – and a pricey one at that – that I don’t live in. So, here I am, three weeks away from my exodus from Gainesville, and weighed down with a $4,200 burden. Agh.

Finding someone to take over my lease for the spring and summer semesters has been a physically-, mentally- and emotionally-tasking task. It’s not easy being your own real estate agent – let alone when your possible buyers are picky, noncommittal and cheap.

Here are a few quick tips to make your search a little easier.

Start looking early.

I waited much too long to begin my search for the next resident of Room A. I was busy living life, and forgot that I had some seriously expensive loose ends to tie up before the new year. I realized too late that waiting until the halfway point in the semester was risky. Start looking as soon you know you won’t be in your apartment for a semester.

 

Talk up your apartment.

Don’t start with “fully-furnished” or “it has a washer and dryer.” They’re going to assume you have those things because this is 2013. Lead with the strong selling points, like that it’s within walking distance of campus, that it has a free printing lab, or an amazing pool. Think about what made you want to live there, and make that your pitch.

 

Advertise in the right places.

You’ve seen many an ad hanging on the inside of the stall door in the women’s restroom, right? I didn’t take this route, because I’m not sure that the bathroom is going to be the location where a potential tenant will be in the buying mindset. They’re probably attending to other things.

Think about where someone would go when they are actively seeking an apartment. The Internet, anyone? Post in any Facebook groups you are a part of, post on the walls of student groups like “UF Class of 2015” and utilize websites that let you post free classified ads. Hit up Craigslist and take advantage of trustworthy sites like housing.offcampus.ufl.edu.

 

Don’t get picky.

This is referring to people and prices. Sure, you probably want your fill-in roommate to be Suzy Homemaker, a kind, clean, law-abiding, cookie-baking tenant. Truth be told, depending on how late in the game it is, you’ll just have to take what you can get. Things on your checklist might get knocked off should you get down to the wire time-wise.

As for prices, don’t expect to get your full rent. While that would be fine and dandy, it’s probably not going to happen. There are a million vacant apartments in this town at any given time, and there will always be someone selling their room for less. If you don’t want to get undercut by someone else, you need to set a lower asking price or be willing to compromise with your subleaser. In my case, I have offered to pay for the apartment complex’s $200 subleasing fee, as extra incentive to get someone to take my room.

 

Don’t do it under the table.

If your buyer is a friend or a friend of a friend, fine – going under the table is less hassle and usually cheaper. But if you are subleasing to Joe Schmo, sign a legally-binding document that holds that douche responsible if he has a rager and breaks the window or punches a hole in the wall. It can be a really nasty situation if the subleaser destroys your apartment and your complex blames it on you.

 

Profile your potential buyer.

No one wants to live with a crazy partier or a goody-two-shoes who wants all noise off at 9 p.m. You need to know a bit about this person – their interests, their age, their living style, their personality type and their habits. Make sure he/she is a good fit for your roommates, and most of all – make sure he/she isn’t a murderer. My suggestion? Stalk the hell out of this person on Facebook, Google them, and try to meet them in person before they sign.

Good luck!

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