The Housing Hunt: The Problems With Subleasing

Now, I'm what you call an expert subleaser. As a former RA, exchange student, and Craigslist connoisseur, I can't remember the last time my name was actually on any sort of lease. However, none of that could prepare me for a summer of living in east LA with 6 complete and total strangers.

That some-what trying experience has let me clearly see the problems with subleasing. Despite my obvious past subleasing love, I've started to long for a lease and apartment of my own- even though I've signed a sublease until next Summer. 

Let's just say I look up studio apartments on a pretty regular basis. But if you are moving somewhere (LA/NY) for as semester-long internship, it's your best bet for affordable housing. 

Problem #1: You Are Not On The Lease

Now, this is equal parts obvious equal parts surprising. Let me explain, you are not on the lease. That partly means the Landlord might not even know you're there! 

It also means, you can't call with maintenance issues. Cause, they'll be like "who the hell are you?" 

You can also really get into trouble. If for instance, the lease the person you're subleasing from doesn't allow subleasers. Or you don't know the rules of the place you're living in if the person doesn't tell you. For instance no pets, no couples sharing a room, or no overnight stays. 

Just be sure to ask these questions about these issues when you sublease. And always go for the sublease that requires a credit check and a meeting with the landlord, it just adds that sense of legitimacy. However, I've done it both ways and never had any crazy problems with it. Although the maintenance issue did come up and I may or may not used the name of the person I was subleasing from (a much older Asian girl). 

Problem #2: You Have No Say

Since you are not on the lease, not in charge of getting the rent payment in time, and just a "temporary resident"- you really don't have a say in a lot of real issues. A sample of these real issues are dishes in the sink, all standards of cleanliness, boyfriends everywhere (seriously everywhere),  and people breaking the rules (pets, couples sharing a room). 

Along with this comes with a general inconsiderateness towards the subleaser or worse, when everyone is a stranger, towards everyone in the house/apartment.

This can lead to a lot of passive aggression on your part. This is your home as well! 

The best way to deal with this is having a roommate meeting. This serves to discuss the problems, standards of living, and allows you to gain equal footing. This is especially effective in environments where everyone or most people are fellow subleasers. 

For environments where you come in to an existing roommate situation. You might just have a to adapt to their environment and standards. If you really have a problem, just discuss it with the roommate you feel closest too. They likely want you to feel comfortable in the home as well, but are often not as open to compromise. 

Problem #3: You Don't Know These People

Another problem with subleasing, the root of the problem if you will, is that you don't know these people. The person you are closest too, the one subleasing the apartment, will not be there to ease the transition. 

You may be lucky if you get to stalk them on Facebook, much less get to meet these people before you move in. In fact, I hate to admit this, I didn't even learn all my roommates names despite living with them for 3 months. 

The very fact that you are living with strangers leads to lack of confrontation, lack of communication (my roommate moved out and gave her keys to a friend without telling us), and inconsiderateness.

Also, since the situation is awkward, most people keep to themselves. No pow-wow's or movie nights for the most part. Which was actually a huge disappointment if you are coming to LA/NY, not knowing anyone. If you each have your own rooms, the living room will likely become a barren storage unit.

They also might be crazy, loud, or just terrible people- and you're stuck in a sublease for 3 months. I mean, you're not going to move again with only a couple months left. 

The best way to avoid terrible roommates is to just ask as many questions as you can before you sign the lease. Get there names, stalk them on Facebook. If they live a party lifestyle and you would rather just watch Netflix, it might not be a great match. Even if it's only for a couple months. 

Problem #4: Stuff if Everywhere

If you are living in a space with 4+ roommates, there will be stuff everywhere. Especially if most of these people are subleasers, dragging their stuff from their previous fully furnished apartments. This is fine in the majority of the rooms in the house: your room and shared bathrooms. However, the living room and kitchen areas tend to EXPLODE with things. I mean four sets of pops and pans, utensils everywhere, food everywhere. 

As much as I hate to suggest it, the only way to combat this is to designate storage places in the apartment in order to whittle the pots and pans down to one set. You also should collaborate on buying food essentials, more so if you only have one fridge. That means one person buys the butter one week, another buys milk, another buys eggs. Three sets of eggs, milk, and butter fill up a fridge very fast. 

If you can't keep all of your stuff in your bedroom, you'll have to get rid of some of your stuff or get a storage unit. Please please please do not dump it in the living room and say "sorry". You have everything you need in your room and you will never need those things. Preventing your roommates from using the living room is not cool. 

Problem #5: Borrow and Ruin

If you have a lot of roommates, it can be very easy for people to borrow your things without blame. I mean, how will you know who did it? You aren't Sherlock. 

This no-fault borrowing can unfortunately lead to them not taking very good care of your things. For me, this happened with my brand new pans. They are burned, charred, and dirty despite my constant efforts in cleaning them. I honestly do not know how this happened or who did it. 

I've found this happens the most with kitchen items and essentials like dish soap, filtered water, and sponges. I would recommend just keeping your kitchenware packed away and "polite-borrowing" theirs, especially if you are only subleasing for 3 months. 


Subleasing can be a great way to find affordable housing in major cities, however it can also turn into a misinformed nightmare. The best way to avoid this is do your research, go in with a friend as a roommate, or just ask lots of questions. Having your own room and bathroom helps too! 

My sublease experience wasn't all bad, despite the above problems. Although the storage and kitchen problems were a little disheartening, I did make small personal connections with some of my six roommates. Overall, it was fine and livable- even if it wasn't the ideal experience. 

I hope I've given you the worst case scenario of what to expect, here's hoping your sublease experience will be perfect!

Need a Resume? Check out our new Etsy store and get a new resume instantly. 

The Housing Hunt: The Problems With Subleasing The Housing Hunt: The Problems With Subleasing Reviewed by Unknown on 8/17/2014 Rating: 5

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.