sublet your apartment

If you’re someone who loves to travel (and doesn’t like to pay rent while you’re away), turning your apartment into a temporary Airbnb is the ideal solution. In fact, you might even be able to make a profit while you’re at it. But because an apartment is technically someone else’s property, the process can be a bit more challenging. Without proper permission from your landlord, you could end up without a place to come back to. 

So, how can you have the best of both worlds – sublet your apartment while you travel yourself? More importantly, how can you do so without ending up in legal hot water? Let’s take a look.

Check the fine print.

Before you get too ahead of yourself, you need to make sure it’s even within your legal rights to sublet your apartment. Unfortunately, many leases and rental agreements expressly prohibit sublets. Landlords often include this clause to protect themselves and maintain control over who is allowed to live in their property. 

If your lease says something along the lines of: “The tenant shall not sublet all or any part of the premises,” then you’re out of gas. However, if that clause is followed by something like: “without the landlord’s prior written consent,” then you might be in business – provided you can get your landlord onboard, which brings us to the next step:

Get your landlord’s permission.

Even if there is no clause in your lease, or you think your landlord won’t care, you should never assume it’s ok to move forward with a short term rental arrangement without his or her permission. If you do so and the landlord finds out and is unhappy about it, he or she will have grounds to evict you. It’s just a bad idea, period.

Of course, how you approach your landlord is up to you. I’d recommend reaching out, either over the phone or in person, as I think this sets a more positive tone for the conversation. Plus, it allows the landlord to voice his or her concerns and ask questions that you can address right away.

If you’d prefer, you can write a formal letter requesting a sublet. (Here’s a sample letter you can use.) A few points to include, either in your conversation or the letter, are the fact that you are a tenant in good standing (which, hopefully you are) and that any person you will be subletting to will be a good stand-in for you. You can back this up by going over the steps you will be taking to vet any potential guests and also confirming the rules you’ll be putting in place, such as no smoking, no pets, quiet time, etc.

Understand the risks.

If your landlord is hesitant to approve your request, don’t be surprised or upset. Chances are he or she has read some of the horror stories about nightmare Airbnb guests disrupting the neighborhood and damaging property. Be prepared to acknowledge, address and (hopefully) overcome those concerns. 

To set your landlord’s mind at ease, explain some of the protections Airbnb has in place, such as the $1M Host Guarantee and $1M Host Protection Insurance. These provisions ensure that should a guest damage property or become injured during their stay, the landlord won’t be on the hook. I also recommend investing in other safeguards, such as a noise monitoring service, to provide additional peace of mind that nothing will go awry while you’re away.

Get it in writing.

Last, but certainly not least, if you do get the green light, make sure you memorialize the agreement in writing. This will protect both parties and prevent any potential misunderstandings from mucking up the deal down the road. You may also want to provide a written copy of your sublet agreement to your guests so they will be aware of all the rules that apply to the rental, such as noise restrictions, no smoking, no pets policy, etc.

Turning your apartment into a short term rental can help you cover your living expenses while you’re traveling. If you play your cards right, you might even be able to turn a decent profit. But the only way to be successful at this is to do so on the up-and-up. The tips and these additional tips above should help keep you out of hot water and enable you to become a confident, successful Airbnb host.