There are many reasons you may need to sublet. Maybe you found a place to buy, are getting relocated for work, or found another rental that you really want to pursue. Subletting may seem cumbersome but it can definitely be worth it rather than paying 2 months rent to cancel your lease. To make it easier, I’ve assembled this guide to walk you through the process.
Consult your landlord.
The first thing you should reach out to your landlord, advise them why you need to break the lease, and ask them if they will let you out of the lease. If your landlord denies your request, ask if they would accept a lease breakage fee. If they will, then suggest an amount that you would be comfortable with. If the fee is too high or they don’t agree to a fee then you could try and sublet the unit. In Chicago, all tenants have the right to sublet their unit under the Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance (RLTO).
Begin by reaching out to your landlord to find out what they require when you find someone interested in subletting your apartment. Is there an application fee? Are they responsible for any move in fees? What paperwork do they require? They may even help you advertise for a subletter. Additionally, they may give you a access to good quality photos you can use in your ads.
If you’re in need of photos…
Hire a photographer to take high quality photos of your unit. Your landlord may help pay for this expense, as it could benefit them, too! If you can’t hire a photographer, take photos when it’s sunny and turn every light in the unit on.
Write a good description.
Be sure to include if pets are allowed, the date the unit is available, when your lease ends, type of laundry, if parking is included, unit or building amenities, what utilities are included, etc.
Offer an incentive for your advantage.
A great way to help get your place subletted quickly is to offer incentives. The best way to do this is to reduce the monthly rent. This strategy works well because you are widening your audience by reducing the posted monthly rent. You can either just pay the additional amount to your subletter monthly, or say that you reduce the rent by $100/mo and they are going to finish your lease for 6 months. Then, you could give them the $600 when they sign, and they will pay the full monthly rent to the landlord each month. This way is preferred, because then you don’t have to bother with sending $100 to them each month.
There’s some great subletting resources.
A few places to list your unit or find a subletter are:
- Sublet.com (https://www.sublet.com)
- It’s best to pay the $20 to make it open to all renters for 30 days. If you don’t, only paid subscribers to sublet.com can see it. This is how I ended up subletting my own place.
- Craigslist (https://chicago.craigslist.org)
- Post in both the regular apartment section and the sublet section. This means your unit will be seen by many more people.
- Zumper (https://www.zumper.com/pro/)
- Zumper is great, as it is free to use and helps potential candidates easily apply.
- Zillow Rentals (https://www.zillow.com/rental-manager/properties#/all/)
- Zillow has a very large audience, so this is always an option.
- Facebook Groups
- There are a ton of Facebook groups centered around sublets, apartments, finding roommates, and even neighborhood specific groups you can post in.
If you need some furniture…
You may get a lot of inquiries requesting a furnished place. Even if you aren’t leaving your furniture, there are other options. If they really like your place, and are willing to rent furniture, the perfect resource is Inhabitr (https://www.inhabitr.com). Inhabitr is well priced and has nice looking furniture. This is what my own subletter used because he was only in Chicago for 6 months, and found it to be very convenient.
Subletting is a great way to start your new home journey. Looking to buy a home of your own? Work with one of our agents.
Matt Engle Real Estate Broker 717.658.0899
Blog by: Matt Engle
Matt represents clients buying and selling residential real estate and investments in Chicago in addition to having a wealth of experience in residential leasing. He intently listens to his clients’ needs and thoughtfully guides by serving as a professional, educated, and responsive real estate advisor.