Subletting 101: How to successfully sublet

Subletting is a common practice by renters but can lead to disputes and costs. This article will take you through the do’s and don’ts of subletting to ensure things run as smooth as possible.

1. Get permission from your property manager

In almost all cases, subletting your property without the written consent of your property manager is in violation of the terms of the lease. So, make sure to email your property manager in advance to get their permission or ensure your lease has subletting expressly permitted. It’s vital that you get their permission in writing, just in case any problems arise throughout the process of subletting. If you’ve already found a prospective sub-tenant, it may be helpful to provide information that shows they can pay rent and are of good character.

Note: Some agents will require every tenant to be on the lease. Often Strata unit buildings will also require the names of every occupant that resides in the property for safety reasons. For longer subleases, consider adding the sub-tenant as a main tenant under the tenancy agreement to share responsibility.

2. Weigh the risks

There are many benefits to subletting, however there are many stories of sub-lets gone wrong. Just because you’ve gained your property manager’s permission doesn’t mean there are no risks. Subletting your home or room can open up risks for theft of your possessions and destruction of property. As a result, it’s always best to sublet to people you know or that people you know can vouch for.

There’s plenty of issues that can arise when subletting, such as missed rent, uninvited guests and disputes over cleaning responsibilities, so be sure to check out our article on keeping the peace in a share-house.

3. Consider family and friends first

Try to consider everyone that aren’t complete strangers first as people you know are much more likely to be more responsible in subletting your property. After asking your family and friends, consider asking people that are in your community - consider putting up a flyer at your office, local gym or any other community.

4. Channel your inner landlord

In the case of subletting, the head renter essentially adopts the responsibilities of a landlord, so it’s important to act like one. At the end of the day, the head tenant is responsible for their subtenants so it’s important to stress the need for respect and maintaining the property in good condition. As such, make sure to organise a sublease-agreement and collect a bond, making sure to lodge it with your rental bond authority.

5. Record the condition of the property

Taking “before” photos and signing-off on a move-in checklist can be vital forms of proof if any problems arise from sub-letting. Before the new tenant moves in, be sure to take photos of the condition of the property and record the condition of items of furniture and the general condition of the property. Be sure to get your prospective sub-tenant to sign-off on the condition report before you hand over the keys.

6. Be careful with valuables!

It’s a good idea to hide your most important valuables, at least at the start of the lease; until you get to know and trust your new housemates. Consider adding locks to each bedroom so that all tenants feel safe about having their own personal space to store their valuables.

When subletting, you can potentially open yourself up to some risks, so it’s important to know your legal rights and how to minimise risk. Here are some tips:

  • Document everything and have it in writing: any agreements should be made in writing for absolute clarity, and communication with your property manager and prospective sub-tenant should be recorded.
  • Make sure to draft a sublease agreement and have all relevant parties sign it. Once you’ve found your prospective sub-tenant, make sure to get them and your property manager to sign a sublease agreement. You can find a draft agreement here
  • If you collect a bond (which is probably a good idea), then make sure it is lodged legally. It is illegal to hold onto a tenant’s bond for more than 10 days after receiving it so make sure to lodge your sub-tenant’s bond with your relevant authority as soon as you receive it.
  • A property manager has the right to reasonably withhold consent to sublease under the following circumstances:
  • If the number of proposed occupants for the rental property will exceed the number allowed by the tenancy agreement of local planning laws
  • If the proposed subtenant is listed on a tenant database (these databases are run by private companies and contain the details of “bad tenants”) If the landlord thinks the premises would become overcrowded as a result of the subletting arrangement

Additionally, the landlord is not permitted to:

  • Ask for money to give consent other than the reasonable cost of doing so
  • Increase your rent because you have sublet all or part of the rental property
  • Add any conditions to the lease agreement that restrict your right to sublet