I know one thing for certain: If you’re in a situation where you’re trying to find a subletter, it’s either because something very good happened to you, or more often, something very bad. Whether you’re dodging a nightmare of a roommate or you just won the lottery and landed your dream home, finding a subletter is a Two-T issue. Tough and tricky, baby.

Take it from my fiancé, Ryan. From across the couch, I interviewed Ryan about his recent experience finding a subletter this past fall as he ditched his bachelor pad for the home we now share. Describing his experience, he confessed that the process caused him to lose his faith in humanity for a bit. Then he blacked out and entered a type of “rage trance.” When he came to, he succinctly shared, “Just say my experience overall was, ‘Very f!@*ing annoying and avoid it if at all possible.’” Okay, then! 

Thankfully, there are experts out there who can offer a little more guidance other than a Dead Men Don’t Tell Tales-esque warning to weary renters on a mission. The experts? Landlords. I spoke with Meera Lakhavani, an experienced property owner with rentals in both Boston and Chicago. With her insight, renters need not fear the sublet search. 

It’s All In the Advertising

According to Lakhavani, a thorough advertisement is the first step in landing a subletter. “Including a video walkthrough and comprehensive photos will go a long way in giving prospective subletters the information they need, and help them trust you and know that you are legitimate,” Lakhavani says. If you’ve ever looked for a space to sublet, you probably know that the pickins can be slim. Set yourself apart.

Lakhavani adds, “Professional photos, perhaps from when you rented the unit originally, are a good go-to. If you take your own photos, I recommend doing it when there is natural light.” Trying to sell a place while someone is living in it is tough. Don’t think of this as simply finding a subletter; instead, treat this task like you’re trying to sell a home or lifestyle. 

It’s also critical to cast a wide net when listing your sublet. “Crosspost your ad on multiple platforms,” Lakhavani says. “I usually use Zillow (which automatically posts to a few different sites), Craigslist, and Facebook Marketplace.” Further, spread the news on social media and among your social networks. Word of mouth and personal connections could make all the difference. 

Rely on the Kindness of Strangers (and Friends!)

Once potential subletters start coming across your online listing, the requests should start rolling in for tours. This step could become chaotic, especially since you’re probably still living in the rental you’re trying to sublet. Lakhavani recommends calling in favors from friends and roommates, and providing them a token of your appreciation, too. 

“Offer incentives to those that help you,” Lakhavani says. “For example, if you need a neighbor or roommate’s help conducting tours, offer to compensate them, perhaps more so if the unit rents quickly.” Any way to keep the funnel open and flowing will benefit the subletter search process. Be there in person as often as you can, but find ways to work around potential subletters’ schedules. 

Unlike traditional renting scenarios, sublet situations usually stem from time constraints. As such, to find a subletter, you’ve got to stay on your toes. “Be extremely responsive to anyone that reaches out. Especially in larger cities, tenants can make their decision on where to live in a matter of days,” Lakhavani says. “The faster you can answer their questions and get them to view the unit, the better!” 

It’s also critical that renters lock in a subletter as soon as they meet the criteria. A renter’s landlord or property management company might require subletters to submit credit and background checks, but that’s their process to navigate. Your job is to find renters for the unit — period. No need to conduct any additional reviews. Lakhavani advises, “Avoid unconscious biases by accepting the first applicant that meets your criteria.” 

Remember, this process can be stressful and seemingly endless whether you’re finding a sublet or looking for a subletter. But following this expert landlord’s advice should minimize those classic pain points and help get your subletter squared away stat!

Sarah Magnuson

Contributor

Sarah Magnuson is a Chicago-based, Rockford, Illinois-born and bred writer and comedian. She has bachelor’s degrees in English and Sociology and a master’s degree in Public Service Management. When she’s not interviewing real estate experts or sharing her thoughts on laundry chutes (major proponent), Sarah can be found producing sketch comedy shows and liberating retro artifacts from her parents’ basement.

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