It must be great to be a landlord in most major Canadian cities these days. Other than the whole putting up with renters thing I mean. Your properties’ value have skyrocketed the last couple of decades, and rental vacancy rates are so low that you have a tremendous amount of leverage as far as finding new clientele. This goes doubly true if you own property located next to a major post-secondary campus. Unfortunately things aren’t so great if you’re a student looking to find the perfect living accommodations year-round.
Twelve Months At a Time
Because of that stupid supply-and-demand thing that determines how desperate renters are compared to landlords, most of the time it is nearly impossible to find a rental agreement for 8 months at a time (the school year for most students). For many students that have moved to go to school, there are many reasons to leave that new location over the summer. Some students simply want to return home to be with their family, and others leave to seek far better-paying employment opportunities. In any case, what this usually results in is a student with very little excess cash having to pay rent for a place that they aren’t even living in. Living in residence (or on campus) is often one solution to this dilemma since they deal primarily in four-month blocks, or university semesters, but one other option for students who choose to rent off campus is to sublet their place over the summer months.
Someone Pays My Rent for Me When I Leave?!
Subletting can be a great deal. You move out, someone else moves in, and pays the rent so that you’re not on the hook for it when you’re living someplace else. If you return in the fall, sometimes the person won’t need the place anymore and you can move right back in, or the landlord can hook you up with another of their properties if you were a trustworthy and low-maintenance client before. For most students, subletting often occurs at the end of their contract, and then they simply sign a new one for the upcoming year.
All subletting really is, is an agreement between you and another person for someone else to take over a period of rent on your rental contract. While that might appear simple at first glance, it can often get pretty complicated, especially if there is damage to the property (which the original renter is often responsible for). While there is often wording in subletting contracts to give you some protection from people who sublet from you, it is still much easier to deal with good people. If you can find people you know and trust to take over your sublet for the summer, do everything you can (including discounts) to convince them to go with your offer. Jerks who trash the place or don’t want to work with you can make your life miserable and cause more headaches than it is worth.
Many landlords are understanding when it comes to facilitating a person that wants to sublet, and some even have a waiting list that makes the whole process extremely easy. That being said, it might be best to peruse the legalities of subletting specific to your province, and to find that contract you signed last year and see if there are any asterisks where subletting is concerned in your situation before going any further with it.
Beat the Rush
If you choose to sublet you should consider that there is often a glut of student rentals that go on the market in May. If you want to be the one to get the business there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. First and foremost, get on top of things early. The sooner you get the word out amongst your friends and contacts the better. Printing off a few homemade advertisements to put up in high-traffic areas, and making yourself a Kijiji advertisement isn’t a bad idea either. Consider giving a 10-20% discount on the rent you pay in order to stand out a little. Since there is so much competition you might have to throw a lower price out there to get noticed. Besides, even though the 10-20% discount will come out of your pocket, getting 80% of your rent paid for you is better than 0% right? The sooner you get the sublet contract signed (usually your landlord will have a template they use) the easier your life will be. People think nothing of blowing off an agreed upon time to view the apartment, and the whole process can quickly become a time black hole, so my advice would be to get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible.
I was fortunate in that I never had to bother with subletting while I was in school (mostly due to living in residence for most of the time). I had several friends that it worked out perfectly for (much of the time they set up agreements with friends who were staying in the same city over the summer) and several who wasted a ton of time and energy trying to find people to sublet from them. When there is suddenly so many students looking to sublet for the exact same timeframe, students again end up on the wrong side of the supply-and-demand equation. Do any of our readers have some more experience and tips in regards to what to watch out for or advice that might help other students looking to sublet?