Students should consider risks when signing summer sub leases

By Colleen Vest

With the semester’s end in sight, many students are looking for subtenants or for apartments to sublease over the summer.

Michelle Harrison, sophomore in LAS, said she found an apartment, but has not signed a contract yet.

“I looked on Uloop and IlliniApartments.com and sent out a bunch of e-mails,” Harrison said. “I also looked on the bulletin boards in some of the buildings on campus because a lot of people put up fliers about subleasing.”

Esther Patt, coordinator for the Tenant Union, said she has been talking to students about subleases since spring break.

“It usually gets really intense this week and next week,” she said. “People are trying to find places they can stay during summer school.”

Michelle Wallace, assistant office manager for Campus Property Management, said there has been a steady flow of subleases.

“It’s up to the original tenants to find a sublease, and we expect to see a lot more in the next few weeks,” Wallace said.

Wallace said in the past, the company had been much busier with sublease contracts.

Patt suggested students take advantage of online search engines.

“I always tell people to look at the DI classifieds and Craigslist,” Patt said. “Then they can just sit in their apartment or whatever at 2 a.m. and send out e-mails about subleasing.”

Students can look up complaints tenants filed against landlords at the Tenant Union, Patt said.

“With subtenants, a lot of landlords will stall on fixing things to wait out the lease,” Patt said. “Why rent at a place where the landlord won’t fix the air conditioning for two months?”

Students need to be cautious with subleases, Patt said.

“A lot can go wrong with the transaction or in the three months they have to stay in the apartment,” she said. “One problem we get is the original tenant doesn’t pay their share of the summer rent, so the sublease gets evicted.”

Another issue between the subtenant and original tenant is disputes over damages, she said.

“We always tell the students to document the state of the apartment in writing signed by both parties and with photos in May and again in August,” Patt said.

Students need to pay attention to when the lease ends, she said.

“We’ll get students who sign a lease for summer session two which ends on August 8, but the lease is up on August 5,” she said.

Patt said to avoid paying the tenant by signing a sublease contract with the landlord.

“Having both the subtenant and the original tenant pay all three months in advance is the best option,” Patt said. “It’s the best way to protect both students because neither will have to worry about rent.”