May 13, 2013

There’s something about subletting a unit – when your tenant does it — that runs against the grain of a property manager’s sense of work and duty. You put in a lot of effort to find the right tenant – one who clears a criminal and credit background check, who is legitimately employed, who has presented a solid personal reference or two and whose recent landlords you’ve spoken with. In other words, a tenant you’ve done everything to make sure is reliable and responsible. A good property manager knows that this is the only way to make sure the property unit is protected, that the rent will be paid on time, and that the tenant will even be the kind of neighbor who is kind and considerate to you and others.

Your business gets thrown a curve ball, however, when your tenant wants to sublet the unit to another person. He or she will be in charge of the screening process and this can invite all kinds of problems. Of course, it will be in the tenant’s best interest to make sure the subletor will be responsible and reliable with the unit and with paying the rent on time. At the same time, the pre-existing tenant will be the one who will be held liable for the lease and any damage or financial penalties until the term of the lease finally runs out. However, the big problem here is that most tenants simply don’t have the experience or know-how in property management to know who constitutes a reliable tenant. Because of this, there may be problems when the tenant wants to secure a subletor for the unit he/she is responsible for.

Sure, subletting your unit out may not always be what your want or prefer, but when you are in the position where the alternative is lost rent, you should go for it. If and when you find yourself where a sublease is in order, it’s important that you take care of the following points:

  • Make sure the pre-existing tenant – the one in charge of finding the subletor – has a history of exercising good judgment and of being responsible.
  • Also clarify to the pre-existing tenant that a credit and criminal check is required of the subletor (to be covered either by you or the tenant).
  • Be certain to have all the necessary legal paperwork signed and understood by both the tenant and subletor regarding the financial obligations of the sublet, i.e.: the monthly rent payments and fines linked to property damages.
  • It’s critical that you are the one to ultimately approve the potential subletor.

At all times, you must remember that you are the property manager and that you are the one who sets down the parameters on subletting. If you are one to decide that subletting is not right for your business and ban it, make sure to write as an important clause in your lease contract.