Subleasing frustrating for some students

Despite Facebook or Craigslist ads, some students struggle to sublease their spaces for summer.

by Vadim Lavrusik

Ian Bell promises a spacious room, great location and a nice roommate for his shared apartment room in Marcy-Holmes neighborhood.

He’s even willing to pay for some of the summer rent – yet he still can’t find anyone to sublease his Marcy Park apartment room.

Bell, a biology, society and environment student, said he didn’t expect to get a job as an orientation leader, which requires him to live in a residence hall for the summer. But he is still bound to his lease.

where to go

Student LEgal Services
What: Student Legal Services offers free consultations regarding tenants rights
When: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays
Where: 160 West Bank Skyway
Call: (612) 624-1001
E-Mail: [email protected]

Students living in apartments and homes around campus are now struggling to find another person to take over their leases for the summer months and find themselves hustled to lower the monthly rent.

Like Bell, students create Facebook events showcasing their rooms and make postings on Craigslist. Those who don’t find someone to sublease often have no choice but to pay the summer rent without even living in the apartment.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do, if you are bound by the contract,” Bell said.

He has been looking for someone to take his place for more than a month, and if he finds someone to take over, it will save him $1,000, he said.

Students looking for a cheap place to live are in a position to negotiate the price with students desperate to sublet their space.

Danielle Eastberg, a computer engineering senior who is looking for a place to live this summer, said people have a hard time finding someone to take their place because students don’t want to come into a situation where there are four roommates already living together. Because of this, prices are negotiable.

“They’re pretty flexible because they’d rather have someone taking over the rest of the lease than just paying it and not living there this summer,” Eastberg said.

But students like criminology sophomore Janelle Mertens, who are looking for someone to replace a roommate, are less willing to negotiate the rent because it means those still living in the unit would have to pick up the tab.

Mertens, who is subleasing a single room of a house in Marcy-Holmes, said the rent is at a set price and they won’t negotiate because it means they have to pay more.

But if they don’t fill the space, they don’t know what they’ll do, she said.

Having a stranger move in doesn’t really bother her though, she said. “Freshman year we had to live with strangers in the dorms, so it’s just like that,” she said.

Students subleasing their rooms have to be cautious of fraud and terms of the lease.

Bill Dane, a staff attorney at Student Legal Service, said there have been fraudulent cases of people who contact students from overseas to sublease their room, he said.

These people tell students they are going to send them the money, send too much and ask for the students to pay the difference.

The checks or money orders are usually phony, but people don’t realize it until after they had already paid the difference, he said.

“There are people who are looking to prey on people subletting their apartment,” he said.

Also, students subleasing need to know whether they are assigning the lease to another person or if it is just a sublease, he said.

Assignments require complete responsibility of the rent and contract for the student taking over, while a sublease still holds the original tenant responsible if rent isn’t paid. This is one of the risks of subletting, Dane said.

“Make sure you are clear on the terms and you read the fine print,” he said.