How to Tell Your Roommate You're Subletting

By Tamiera Vandegrift on January 29, 2017

Picture this: You are leaving your college town and your apartment or house for an extended period of time, whether it’s due to summer break, an awesome vacation to Hawaii, or some other amazing reason to ditch the books. It’s going to be pretty expensive to continue to pay the rent for an apartment that you won’t be living in for a long period of time. How, oh, how will you find a solution? Oh wait, there’s such a thing as subletting!

Subletting is basically an agreement between you and another temporary tenant to take over the lease temporarily for the duration of your absence. This temporary tenant is known as a subtenant. They will only be able to remain in your house or apartment for as long as you’ll be away, so you don’t have to worry about having an awkward situation where you gain an extra roommate when you come back. Typically, you’ll have to arrange this situation with your landlord before you act on it, so be sure to talk with them first to be safe.

TL;DR: You get a free pass from paying your rent during your absence once you find a temporary replacement to fill your space.

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Before you resort to Facebook, or Craigslist if you’re brave, aren’t you forgetting something? You know, those other people you live with? Before you even dare to sublet your apartment, you must notify your roommates. After all, you don’t want to be that roommate who lets a complete stranger into your apartment. That stranger could be completely gross and not do their dishes, they could be completely rude, or they could even be a distant relative of Pablo Escobar, running their own drug business right from your apartment building.

Okay, maybe that last one was a little extreme, but the point still stands — your roommates deserve to know who they’ll be living with. Read on to find the best way to break the news to your roommates that you’re subletting.

Be straightforward

If the mere thought of talking to your roommate makes you want to hide under a rock, don’t worry. I completely understand, but the best way to get difficult news off your chest is just to come right out and say it. Tell them early on, possibly at the minute you even think about subletting.

Remember that they deserve to know who they’ll be living with for a time. How would you feel if you came out of your room in your sweats and bunny slippers one morning to find some stranger lounging on the couch? I’d imagine you would feel super uncomfortable. If you feel perfectly at ease with that situation, you might have a whole other problem.

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Also, make sure that you catch them at the right time. If they’re in the living room pulling their hair out because a professor gave them a bad grade on an essay they spent 10 minutes working on, it probably won’t be a good time. Use your best judgment.

When you finally do decide to give them the talk (No, not that talk), be honest and straightforward. Let them know everything about your situation and tell them that you plan to let another person take the space. Tell them when you’ll plan to let the person move in and how long they will be staying in your place. This leads me to my next point …

Hear them out

If your roommate has any concerns, hear them out. After all, I cannot stress this enough, it is their space too. Listen and be supportive. They may not want a complete stranger living with them, or maybe they might be heading out of town too, in which case you both might need to talk to your landlord and look at subletting your space.

Treat your roommate however you would like to be treated in this situation: with the utmost respect and care. Ask them how involved they would like to be in the selection process, or if they’d like to be included in the selection process at all. Some roommates might be more finicky about this situation, while others might not care. Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Hear out their thoughts and concerns on the matter in order to be a great roommate or even a great friend depending on your relationship with them.

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Include them  

Whether they want to be part of the selection process or not, you should keep them updated on the search and the roommates you’ve found. Again, you probably wouldn’t feel too great about living with a completely random stranger for a few weeks or months. Once you find some interested individuals, share their backgrounds and their information with your roommate and get their feedback.

Learn the most that you can about your potential subtenant. Are they morning people, or night people? Is their cleanliness up to par? If possible, try to arrange a meeting with the subtenant, your roommate(s), and yourself at the subtenant’s residence. Doing so would allow you to see how your subtenant lives and determine whether or not they will be an appropriate fit for your living space.

Tamiera is a senior at Florida State University, studying Editing, Writing & Media and Digital Media Production. When she's not geeking out about movies and puppy videos, she's on her way to a career in screenwriting, while working intensely to finish a few novels before graduation. Besides writing, Tamiera is otherwise obsessed with Coldplay, feminism, dystopian novels, and various types of junk food. She hopes to see one of her works on the silver screen and eventually finish an entire tube of Chapstick.

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