Being the Perfect Guest…Ahem, Subtenant
Welcome back to more lessons in subletting from the Bicoastal Bunny! Many of the lessons in common courtesy and cleanliness involved in being a perfect host are directly related to those of being the perfect guest. If you have not yet read Part 1, shame on you! Do it right now! It’s posted here. Then you can enjoy the full benefits of Part 2.
BEFORE YOU GET THERE
If you’re not paying the full rental price upfront, offer to pay part of the rent as a deposit as soon as you verbally agree to taking over a sublet. Even if your sublessor (from here on “host”) doesn’t take you up on this offer, it will show them that you’re committed and fiscally responsible to at least offer a deposit amount.
As I stated in Part 1, both of you should sign a sublease agreement. God forbid, you may need this later for legal reasons. Otherwise, it gets everything on paper beforehand, so there will be no discrepancies later. There are plenty of templates online for this kind of document. I’ve attached one here.
Basically, you want to make sure the following are agreed upon in writing:
- Rent amount (Are you paying the full month’s rent? Or are you pro-rating the amount for certain weeks/days?)
- Plan for utilities payments
- The due date(s) for payments
- Damage liability expectations
- End-of-lease cleaning expectations (Will you be expected to pay for a professional cleaning service at the end of your lease? Or can you do it yourself?)
Also, it really helps if you organize the keys process as soon as possible. Does your host have an extra set of keys they can mail to you? Can you plan a time to get the keys from one of their roommate? What does your host want you to do with your keys once you move out?
DURING YOUR STAY
If you break it, replace it! Or, if it’s irreplaceable, offer to pay for it. If you spill something, clean it up! This is basic human decency. If you sublessor comes home to a stained carpet or a broken wine glass, and you didn’t have the guts to admit the accident, that’s a sure fire way to earn a bad rep as a subtenant.
Let your host know ASAP if something isn’t working in the apartment. DO NOT contact the landlord directly about a problem unless you are specifically asked to.
If you want to go above and beyond your call of duty, send your host pictures of their mail and let them know if they’ve had any packages delivered.
Respect the roommates. This can be a delicate social situation, and you should handle it as such. Some people will want to socialize and become friends with their roommate’s subtenants. Some people are so used to subtenants constantly in and out of their apartment that they tend to keep to themselves and expect you to do the same. Be friendly and ask questions if you need to, but give them their space and let them come to you.
Above all, don’t be a nuisance. Don’t make the roommates hate you. Don’t blast your music at all hours of the night and get them in trouble with the neighbors. DON’T hog the TV and DVD player. If food is offered to you, help yourself, but otherwise, NEVER take a roommate’s food. Your job is to be quiet, tidy, and respectful while you’re living in a place that isn’t actually yours.
I try not to have guests over when I’m living in a sublet, especially if I’m only staying there for a short time. If you must, send a text out to the roommates before you bring guests over, especially if you plan to hang out in the common area.
BEFORE YOU GO…
Leave the place better than you found it:
- Wash all the linens you used, including sheets, towels, washcloths, and dishtowels.
- Clean the bathroom and kitchen, even if you’ve been sharing it with roommates. It’s just a nice thing to do.
- Take out the trash.
- Shake out the rugs.
- Vacuum or Swiffer if you can.
- Do the dishes.
- Empty the refrigerator of your perishables.
- Replace any toilet paper, Kleenex, or paper towels, if you’ve used them up.
Lastly, leave a little ‘thank you’ note with your keys and a gift for your host-- a bottle of wine or whiskey, flowers—anything to make your host smile when they walk through the door. Coming back to a clean apartment and a bottle of booze after a long stay away from home is pretty much the best feeling ever. Be a saint. Become the best subtenant there ever was. You know what to do.