The international trip is in the bag, whether it’s a tour around the world, an internship or a job assignment abroad lasting several months. You’re ready to go. What happens to your apartment or shared room during your absence? First, the good news: you can find a subtenant. So while you’re on the road and away from home, you won’t have to pay double rent. However, you can’t just sublet on the fly. There are a few things that are important when subletting.

Nice furnished room

Can you simply make a sublet contract?

As a tenant, you need the landlord’s consent for a subtenancy agreement. You cannot draw up a sublease contract without the landlord’s consent. And this consent should always be obtained in advance. As a rule, the landlord must comply with your request. Only in exceptional cases may your consent be refused:

  • If you do not inform the landlord about the conditions.
  • If the rent you take is significantly higher than yours.
  • If the landlord suffers disadvantages as a result of the sublease.

In order for everything to be in order, the landlord needs some information from you. The number and identity of the people to whom you are subletting, the amount of the rent, and the info if the apartment is only partially or fully rented. A copy of the sublease contract must also be provided upon request. Once you have obtained consent, however, there is nothing standing in the way.

Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that the landlord can revoke his consent. Not without good reason, but already if the established conditions change significantly. In the first step, you will then receive a reminder. If you don’t react, you can get an extraordinary termination if things go really bad. For these, a rather short period of only 30 days also applies.

What are the different rights of the main tenant and the subtenant?

In principle, this is a very simple story. The main tenant is liable for all damages in the apartment. Also for those that occur during the sublease. You should therefore take a very close look at who you are letting into your four walls. You certainly want to avoid unpleasant surprises after your return. The advantage of being the main tenant is that he can make all decisions independently of the subtenant.

How do I start a sublease?

It is not legally obligatory, but you should definitely sign a written sublease agreement with your interim tenant. If possible, you should also specify the shared use of your furniture and other household items. You are also allowed to take a slightly higher rent, after all, as the main tenant, you bear the risk if you bring someone else into the house. A higher rent can also be justified by the use of the furniture. You should also not forget the share for electricity and other ancillary costs.

If you want to be on the safe side, it is best to take a security deposit. If the subtenant has really damaged something carelessly, the deposit will help you pay for any repairs. This deposit must not exceed three months’ rent and must be deposited in an account in the subtenant’s name.

There is no time limitation on your sublease. How should you know when exactly you will return? Especially professional stays abroad can be indefinite for the first time. Legally, it is sufficient if you do not exclude that you want to take back the apartment at a later date. The situation is different if you do not plan to return to your own four walls at all.

Legally, you pass on your apartment and collect the rent for it, possibly even making a profit on the subletting. This is not allowed and is only reserved for your landlord. So don’t even think about turning your private apartment into a vacation home. This may well end up in court and to your disadvantage.

What exactly is in a sublease contract?

In principle, a sublease agreement looks exactly like a normal rental agreement. It contains the usual information and starts with the naming of the main tenant and the subtenant. The rental object must be named and it must also be specified which parts of the apartment are included in the use.

An inventory list including the number and naming of keys can also be added. The exact rental period is also specified. If it is for an indefinite period, this is exactly what is written in. The rent is described as precisely as possible and a field for remarks offers space for special arrangements and special agreements. It is best to have it signed in duplicate, everyone gets a copy and that’s it.

Termination of sublease: What do you need to consider?

The sublease can be terminated by either party. It is best to specify a period of notice in writing in the sublease agreement. As a rule, this is the usual three months. Then you are on the safe side and do not have to struggle from a distance to pay double rent or to find a new tenant within a short time. However, you can make an exception if your subtenant brings in an adequate next tenant. If that’s okay with you and you feel good about it, a new sublease can simply be signed.

Solidarity rent – what is it actually?

In flat-sharing communities, a solidarity rent is also a good option instead of a sublet. If you are uncomfortable being the sole main tenant because your five flatmates are rather wild, the solidarity rent is a good choice.

All tenants then have equal rights. But also responsible for everything to the same extent. Everything concerning changes in the lease must be discussed and decided together from then on. If there are damages that need to be paid for, you all dig into your pockets together.

See subletting as an opportunity

Subletting your own four walls is definitely a great opportunity to save costs and be a bit flexible. However, make sure that you always protect yourself in writing and that you do not misuse the subletting in any way. As soon as your activities go beyond normal subletting, it can become really critical in terms of liability.



Photo by Matt Biddulph, “Sublet this month, corner of 21st and Valencia.” | flickr