Part 1: Being the Perfect Host... ahem, Sublessor.
Ah, the joys of inviting a total stranger to sleep in your bed…and pay you for it. Subletting is one of the inevitabilities involved in the gypsy life of being a theatre performer. Word-of-mouth recommendation is everything in these scenarios, so it’s in your best interest to provide every person who stays in your place with an excellent subletting experience. You want to be known as “the best place I crashed in New York” rather than “Oh my gosh, never stay there. It’s disgusting, and he’s a horrible person.” I mean, if you’re actually a horrible person, there’s not much I can do to help fix that, but at least these tips and tricks will sort out your apartment.
MONEY, KEYS, AND TOILET PAPER
- Once your subtenant (from here on, “guest”) has verbally confirmed wanting to pay to stay in your apartment, both of you should sign a sublease agreement (there are a ton of templates for these online). Even if the person subletting is a friend, it’s best to get the decisions on paper, so you can avoid confusion or awkward conversations in the future.
- Ask them to send you at least part (if not all) of the pro-rated rent amount as a deposit. Then, if possible, mail your guest a copy of the apartment keys. This saves you both a lot of hassle and provides flexibility in the move-in/move-out process.
- If you can’t copy your apartment keys, leave them in an obvious place in the apartment, and make sure your guest and roommates have each other’s contact info to set up a time to hand-off the keys. This way, your guest won’t end up like me, sitting in a Starbucks with my suitcases, waiting for someone to get home and let me into the apartment.
- I have found it simplest to estimate utility expenses ahead of time, and charge the allotted amount as part of the rent. In addition, I always up-charge from this amount just a little bit and then use this money to buy some toilet paper, trash bags, Clorox wipes, etc.—just a few things that my guest will definitely use, but that ultimately won’t come out of my own or my roommates’ pockets.
IT’S ALL IN THE PREP
- Wash sheets, towels, and hand towels and leave them folded on the end of your bed. This way your guest won’t second-guess whether they are supposed to change the sheets once they’ve arrived.
- Buy a plastic storage bin or use an empty suitcase to store as many of your unpacked clothes as possible. Ideally, try to leave your guest a whole dresser and at least half of the closet. Leave plenty of closet hangers. If you have a desk or a bedside table, clear it off as much as possible. You want your guest to feel like there’s space for them to live in your room.
- CLEAN! Nothing is worse than getting off of a flight, dying for a hot shower, and realizing upon arrival at your sublet that you’re going to have to clean the shower/tub before you can use it. Wash, scrub, spray, wipe down the countertops, vacuum, burn a candle, put all the dishes away, you get the picture…
- Clear your stuff out of the refrigerator and dry goods cupboards. In addition, I like to leave little Post-it’s for my guest in the kitchen, so they can see which space in the kitchen is for them to use.
- The list is probably the most helpful thing you can do for your guest. It will make the difference between being a “good” and “the best” sublessor. It should be emailed to your guest or left in hard copy format at the apartment (or both). It should include:
o The address of the apartment
o Roommates’ names and emails or cell numbers
o Wi-Fi network name and password with location of the router
o How to work the air conditioning, central heating, and intercom system for the building, if any
o Information about the side of the refrigerator/dry goods cupboards they should use, as well as if any dishes are yours for them to use
o How to work the TV/DVD player/Netflix/Hulu, etc.
o Where to find toilet paper, linens, detergent, paper towels, trash bags, Ziplocs, etc.
o Where to do laundry in the building, or where the closest Laundromat is located
o Whether you want them to contact maintenance/your landlord directly with problems, or talk to you about it first
o Information on public transportation—closest subway lines, bus stops, etc.
o If your guest is new to your neighborhood, let them know where the closest grocery store, pharmacy, post office, movie theatres, coffee shop, and pizza/Thai places with delivery are located.
o Any of your favorite “go-to” places in the neighborhood—bars, restaurants, froyo, smoothies, etc.
o If your apartment has any “special” issues they should know, i.e. old windows that have to be opened a specific way, a special way to shove the door so it unlocks, unofficial quiet hours, light switches that turn on the outlets for the whole room…you know what I’m talking about.
Ultimately, your goal as a sublessor/host should be to make your apartment feel as comfortable as a hotel, with as much ease of access. If you really want to go all out, leave some chocolate on their pillow… Unless it’s August. That might backfire.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 in Lessons in Subletting: Being a Great Guest
--the City Audition