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Be careful when seeking summer sublets

Laura DaSilva
News Reporter

Humber students are counting down the days to summer break. Some are heading back to their hometowns, some are travelling the globe and some are taking jobs outside the city.

Many students, who have fought their way through the rental battlefield, say they don’t want to give up their comfy pad and start from scratch come September.

Students looking to put new adventures under their belts without feeling locked down by a lease should consider subletting, according to Susan Miller, associate director of campus services at Humber.

“Subletting is a good option for students who decide to live off campus and can’t afford to stay for 12 months when they’re only paying for eight,” said Miller.

There are many free online resources to for renters and prospective tenants. Some include Places4Students (Places4Students.com), which Humber works with to help students sublet over the summer months; Montreal-based Flatbook; AirBnB (AirBnb.ca); and Craigslist or Kijiji (www.craigslist.com/ www.kijiji.com).

Bethany Hosick, Off-Campus Connection assistant at Humber, ran a workshop called “Renters 101” on  March 25.

“Subletting is the ideal option for students over the summer since they can leave their stuff and save four months’ rent,” said Hosick.

There are some things you should keep in mind before handing over your keys, according to https://www.places4students.com/Blog/BlogView.aspx?BlogID=56:

    1. Obtain consent. Inform your landlord or property manager that you plan to sublet your place for a portion of your lease. In most cases, you will be required to get a written consent authorizing the sublet.
    2. Draft a contract.A contract should include the subletting dates, rental amount, number of people who will be living in the unit, responsibility for maintenance or damage to the unit and how (or to whom) the rent will be paid.
    3. The responsibility for payment is on the renter, not the person subletting. In most circumstances, the subtenant will pay rent to the original tenant, who then pays the landlord or property manager.
    4. Your social network is the first and best place to look for a sub-letter. Your connection to the people in your network can help prevent the sub-letter from taking advantage of you. You’ll also have the ability to check references and feel more comfortable about the whole experience.
    5. Take before photos and make a checklist. Subletting your home opens you up to potential theft and serious damage that you ultimately will be responsible for. A checklist will act as a reference to make sure nothing is missing or has been tampered with. Remove valuables or things you don’t want people to mess with before you hit the road. 
    6. Leave a list for people. Avoid having to answer streams of texts and emails. Make a concise guide for your guests that outlines where to put garbage, find things, nearest stores, restaurants and contact numbers. This will make life easier on all ends

Red flags and sublet scams that potential renters should be aware of:

  1. Make sure the posting has pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words. In this day and age, where any smartphone can snap a pic in a few seconds, not having one is usually a sign it’s a place you don’t want to step foot in.
  2. Never send money via Paypal or online before there is a signed contract or the deal has been approved by an authorized site. Keep all personal banking information private.
  3. Get a copy of the lease or agreement in writing: If someone is unwilling to give you their John Hancock, they will likely be unwilling to hand over their money.
  4. Avoid renting sight unseen.  Don’t fall victim to the rush tactics typically used by scammers.  Many will urge you to rent without visiting the apartment, claiming others are waiting to sign a lease immediately.

Hosick urges students to look at the Ontario Residential Tenancies Act for more information on landlord and tenant rights and regulations. http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_06r17_e.htm

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