When you’re the new kid

Here are some tips to being a tolerable sublessee.

by Meghan O'Connor


As students, sometimes life demands us to sublease our housing. A roommate may study abroad or simply want out of a bothersome living situation. Nonetheless, being a tenant can get stressful in these situations. One has to walk the line between finding someone who can pay the rent but also get along with the existing roommates. A lot of people deal with these kinds of decisions every day. But, let’s just be honest for a moment: Having a stranger come into your living arrangement has the potential to be hell.

So, for all of you soon-to-be sublessees, I have laid out some ground rules for when you take the plunge into your new living environment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that every house is different.

 Just to brush up on some housing lingo; a subleaser is the one who is leaving his or her room behind to be occupied by someone else. A sublessee is the person who comes in to take that tenant’s place for a specified time period.

Go with the flow

It’s important to come into this new situation willing to adapt to how the new household runs. If you aren’t 100 percent on board with everything that the existing tenants do, at least try to make an effort. And quite frankly, bite your tongue.

Maybe they have a community meal once a week to catch up. Maybe the roommates all have designated rooms to clean on a weekly basis. Whatever it may be, try to make it work with your schedule.

If you don’t want to be a part of these traditions, don’t. But don’t have a sense of entitlement and tell them how and what they should be doing. They lived harmoniously before you came into the mix, so do your best to keep it that way.

Have an open mind

You are going to be the new kid, and there is no way around it. If you are moving in with complete strangers, don’t assume that everyone is going to want to be best friends with you. They may just want to coexist for the timespan you are there, but to assume anything more may be like crossing into no man’s land.

On the other side of things, if your new roommates are making an honest effort to make you a part of weekend festivities, try to go along with it when you can. Show them that you actually want to get along.

Try to keep the line of communication open in case you don’t feel comfortable confronting each other. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your discrepancies to their faces, maybe you could have a group text or a spot in the house to post notes to one another. That can help to release some of the tension.

Remember that this situation is just as awkward for you as a sub-tenant as it is for the existing tenants. Your move is altering their world, so try to make the transition as seamless as possible.

The situation is temporary

Understand that in a matter of months you will be parting ways with these individuals and may never have to see or speak to them again.

Some people will find friends in a sub-tenant where others will become mortal enemies. Whatever happens, keep that in mind and just try to bear it when the going gets tough.

Unfortunately, many of us will endure some subleasing experiences we would soon like to forget. But, it’s important for both parties involved — the sublessee and the other tenants — to approach the entire experience openly and honestly. Living with peers your own age can be awkward enough without all the drama. So when you unload your car on move-in day, leave your internal baggage at the door and just enjoy the ride.