After I wrote my story about living like a semi-homeless champ in New York City, a girl from college sent me a Facebook message offering a great sublet.
“I would consider renting my room to you at a really cheap cost, like $150 a week,” she wrote.
The girl goes to law school and during this winter break will be gone for a month and a couple weeks.
Though she normally pays $1,200 a month, she would essentially be offering me a 50 per cent discount to stay at her place.
That is a great deal, and if you’re scraping the financial barrel like I am, it’s a cost-effective way to take a break from the couch.
New York City, by the way, isn’t the only place that offers great subletting steals. Most sublets offer great prices because the timing is random and the length of the stay is often strange. In the southern part of downtown Los Angeles, for example, rent can be reduced up to 75 per cent in the summer months.
But before I jump on one of these exciting deals, I should know what I’m getting myself into and how I might get myself kicked out:
I need to make sure the main lease allows for a sublease. I could be evicted and the main lease would be terminated, said Steve Harrison, a longtime real estate manager in Orange County, Calif.
Then I need to find out when the original lease expires. That way I’d know I can actually stay there for the length of time the subletter promises. Also, if I like the place, I might able to able negotiate with the landlord to extend the lease.
I’d need to make sure my payments are going directly to the landlord and not the person subletting to me. Otherwise, I risk getting left in the lurch. “You don’t know (the subletter’s) financial situation,” said Harrison. “They could be filing bankruptcy. They could be pocketing all the money. And in the end you’ll end up getting evicted.”
Lastly, I’d need to examine the apartment before moving in to make I’m not liable for anything I didn’t do. That means taking photos and documenting everything in detail.
Thinking of splurging on your own apartment? See the pros and cons >