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How to Sublet Your Apartment in Under 48 Hours

Last month, I decided to start searching for a new place as my lease was ending at the end of the summer, and knew that I would not be staying at that place for another year. A number of factors contributed to my decision to move, with a notice in a change of management being one of the biggest.

After a discussion with the new management company (where I went into the meeting expecting them to raise my rent as I’d heard they were doing with all of the other tenants), I learned that in the event of my wanting to break the lease early I could either:

1. Pay them the cancellation fee of 3 months rent in addition to the current month (at the time I had just paid for May and my lease was ending July 31 which by my calculations is only 2 months…)

2. Find a subletter to take over my lease until the end.

I went with option 2, and quickly turned to one of my favorite places on the internet: Craigslist.

The ad I placed on the website was concise, offering the basic details about the location, price, and availability of the apartment, and I did not expect to receive any replies for a few days.

Much to my surprise within minutes I had multiple people contacting me to set up a time to view the place, and requesting to see pictures of the apartment.

After a multitude of email exchanges with the first 6 people to contact me, I realized there were two really good possible subletters in the group (based on what time frame they were looking to rent the apartment, and the fact that neither minded that the apartment was going to be unfurnished), and decided that the first one who could commit to taking over the place would be the winner.

Before I’d even had a chance to show the apartment to anyone, one of the two people contacted me with an offer to rent the unit, along with asking how much of a deposit I’d like to hold it for them. Seeing that someone was so eager to take my place, I agreed to their request and started the process with my landlord to make the lease transfer official (probably the most important step of the process to protect myself).

Between posting the ad (on a Monday morning) and receiving a commitment to sublet (Tuesday evening), less than 24 hours had passed. I was pleased with this outcome, and was a little anxious that I wouldn’t be able to find a new apartment and be moved in by the time my subletter wanted to take over my old place, but in the end everything worked out okay.

It was a little strange seeing how quickly everything happened, especially since there are ads on Craigslist for similar sublets that have been online for weeks. Those might just be due to people not taking down the ads once the apartments are rented, but it could also be that their ads aren’t as attention grabbing/they haven’t found the “right” subletter.

I think my ad worked for a few reasons:

1. Keep it short and simple. No need to go into great detail about why you are moving out early (but at the same time, if the potential subletter asks you questions, be honest about your reasons and disclosing any negatives of the place that might be dealbreakers).

2. Highlight the best parts of the apartment (big/multiple closets?, lots of windows?, gated parking included?, etc).

3. Timing is everything. My subletter happens to be a college student who is doing an internship in St. Louis for the summer, so my timeline of Mid-May to end of July worked out well for both of us).

Have you ever sublet an apartment? I’m curious to hear how the process went for you.

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