Local experts say summer subleasing mistakes can lead to potential problems

By Meghan O'Kelly

As the end of the academic term approaches, some students are looking to head home for the summer while others search for the best deal on summer housing arrangements on campus.

Esther Patt, coordinator of the University’s Tenant Union, said she frequently sees mistakes made by students both subleasing their apartment and subleasing from a current tenant. She said all agreements should be in writing.

“Always get the landlord’s written consent to sublet,” Patt said. “The landlord can throw the illegal subtenant out. The subtenant should want to make sure to have in his or her possession something with the landlord’s signature consenting to the sublet.”

The summer real estate market is a buyers’ market, and there is no reason why students should rent from a landlord with a questionable complaint record, Patt said.

“Every summer, we have summer subtenants coming to us with repair problems with landlords who are slow to do repairs,” she said, explaining broken air conditioning and leaky roofs are not problems students want to be inconvenienced with for an extended period of time.

Kristina Epplin, senior in LAS, said she is frustrated that she will likely pay rent for her apartment all summer even though she is leaving Champaign upon her graduation next month.

“There’s so much supply, so I feel like it’s going to be hard to sublease because there are so many people out there looking for an apartment,” she said, adding that she was in the opposite situation during the summers she lived on campus. “It helped me because I was able to find great apartments at a good location for a really good price.”

Patt said she also sees frequent conflicts between students over summer sublets. She suggested that the original tenant pay their share of rent through August by May 10 as a condition of the sublease.

“Every year, in June and especially July, we see summer subtenants with eviction notices because the original tenant didn’t pay their part’s rent,” Patt said, adding that utilities should be transferred into the subtenant’s name to avoid them being shut off.

Jennifer Nolan, leasing agent for Bankier Apartment Rentals, 406 E. Green St., said it is important that the subtenant and tenant sign off on the sublease together, and that the subtenant sees the apartment and completes a condition report before moving in.

“It’s a pretty simple procedure,” Nolan said.

Both Patt and Nolan said transferring the security deposit is a problem that plagues students during the subleasing process.

“Students should not pay other students’ deposits,” Patt said. “If you’re the person living there in the summer, and you paid a $400 deposit to the original tenant and you’re supposed to get their deposit back at the end of the lease, you might move into a dirty apartment and the damage the original tenant did.”