Student Life

How to Sublet your Apartment: From posting your online advertisement to handing over the keys

As the school year comes to a close, many McGill students’ focus gradually shifts to exams, OAP, and summer vacation. While some choose to spend their summers in Montreal, the majority decide to go away to work or travel, leaving their bedrooms empty with summer rent to pay. The solution to this is to find a subletter—or a person who pays rent to stay in an apartment for a short-term period. Though competition for summer subletters may be steep, following the right steps can make it much easier for students to find a tenant and save about four months’ rent. To help students in the process, The McGill Tribune has put together a list of tried-and-true tricks to help you set up a stress-free sublet for the summer.

Make sure you have your landlord’s permission
Before starting your search for the perfect subletter, look at your lease and make sure it doesn’t forbid subletting. Chances are you’ll be fine, but it’s worth a look to avoid trouble with your landlord. If you’ve got roommates, make sure you also make sure they’re okay with you subletting your room. Whether or not they’ll be there over the summer, open communication is key to avoiding uncomfortable apartment drama.

Set a reasonable price
Recuperating 100 per cent of your costs would be fantastic, but it’s a lot more realistic to advertise your subletting price at about 75 per cent of what your rent is. Sublets around McGill are often listed at a pretty substantial discount, so doing the same will help your ad stay competitive and increase your chances of finding a subletter. As for hydro and Wi-Fi costs, take a look at other ads to see whether charging extra for utilities will take you out of the competition. Remember that getting some of your costs back is better than getting none at all.

Post your advertisement in the right places
While Craigslist and Kijiji can be good options when selling something in Montreal, advertising your apartment in places where it will only be visible to McGill students is arguably a preferable option. Not only is it simpler to communicate with a fellow student, but narrowing your audience to the campus community can also lower your risk of being scammed by a stranger. Start by posting your apartment on McGill’s listings website and the various Facebook groups dedicated to housing ads posted by and for McGill students, such as “McGill Housing-Rental-Rooms-Apartments-Sublet” and “Housing.” If you’ve tried these groups and have no luck finding a subletter, then consider casting your net outside the McGill community in groups like “International Roommates in Montreal” and “Chez Queer Montréal.”

Make your advertisement attractive and informative
When creating your ad, make sure to include plenty of clear photos, the location of your apartment, correct pricing information, the number of roommates who would be living in the apartment at the same time, and the start and end dates of your sublet period. By answering as many potential questions as possible right off the bat, it will be easier for prospective subletters to make a quick decision about your place. In terms of pictures, make sure to highlight the coolest features and amenities of your apartment—like balconies, a dishwasher, or a washing machine, and its location—including the stores, cafés, and transit options nearby. The goal is to make your apartment stand out from the rest, so make sure to clean up your space and take your photos while the sun is out to produce the most eye-catching results. When writing the ad, use language that will help people picture themselves having an awesome summer in your apartment. This may sound cheesy, but phrases that spark the imagination, like “With a beautiful view of the mountain, the balcony is the best place to study, to pre, or to get that perfect sunset Insta pic,” will leave you with an inbox full of offers.

Don’t forget to check your message requests on Facebook
Even if you provide another way for people to contact you in your ad, some will still message you on Facebook. It’s very easy to miss message requests in your inbox but doing so may lead to a missed opportunity. Once you do receive a message, make sure to be friendly and quick to respond.

Be welcoming during visits
If you find someone interested in visiting your apartment, make sure to clean up your space before they come over for a viewing. Once they’re there, be hospitable and friendly. Make sure to offer them water or snacks and engage in conversation. You want to make them feel comfortable and welcome in your space. By doing so, you can ensure that they leave your apartment with a good feeling about you and the place in general, and are more likely to sublet it from you.

Get your subletting agreement in writing
Once you’ve found a subletter, draw up an agreement with key points. This agreement should outline who will be living there and on what specific dates, the exact amount they will be paying, and other rules the subletter should abide by. An inventory of furniture and other items is a good idea to include in the agreement, so you can rest easy knowing your things will be just as you left them when you return. You still hold the lease, which makes you responsible for paying the rent whether or not your subletter follows through—so this step is perhaps the most important.

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