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How to Screen for a Good Subtenant

When you sublet you're still liable for rent payments and any damages, so make sure to review the finances and background information of your subtenant.

Whether they are a friend of a friend or a complete stranger, we recommend you review your potential subtenant through two different lenses. First of all, check their background and get a sense of how compatible they will be with your neighbors or housemates. Second of all, make sure they will have enough funds each month to pay the rent on time.

Compatibility, background and identity

When screening an applicant you need to look closely at their background and identity to make sure that they're not lying about who they are and decrease the chances that they do anything to upset you, roommates or neighbors during the sublet.

  1. Review social media presence

    Get a sense of who this person is by looking at their Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram profiles.

  2. References & ratings

    Check out your friends in common if you have any, and reach out to those people to run blind reference checks. This means that you should message friends in common and ask them about the person without giving your applicant a heads up.

  3. Identity & background

    Ask for a background check so that you know they've never been arrested or evicted and aren't lying about their identity.

Will they pay the rent on time?

Will the applicant you're considering pay the rent reliably? The best way to figure out if someone will be able to pay rent is to get a sense of how much extra cash they have on hand each month after paying off debts, insurance policies and paying for food.

  1. Income & employment

    Start by asking them for an offer letter or contracts that state how much they earn on a monthly basis. Once you’ve gotten this and reviewed it you can further verify it with either pay stubs or bank statements that show regular credits to their checking account.

    Your verification process should vary based on the kind of employment. If they are salaried then checking income is easier - an offer letter plus pay stubs or tax returns can do the trick. If they work freelance then you will need to cross check their contracts with irregular credits to their bank accounts.

  2. Expenses

    Student loans are the most common and easiest to spot monthly expenses. Besides that, the applicant might have other types of loans or insurance payments, which should be easy to decipher. It's important that you review this information even if you know the applicant through friends - what if they appear to have a decent salary, but are paying off thousands of dollars of credit card loans?

    One bad month could mean you can't pay rent to your landlord.

  3. Basic math

    Get a basic understanding of how much cash you can expect the applicant to have on hand to pay the rent with. Subtract their total monthly expenses from their total monthly income. Leave a 10% buffer for savings and an additional 5-10% buffer for large purchases.

    Read more about how to analyze an applicant's income to see if they can pay the rent.

Next steps

If you don't want to handle screening your applicant on your own, setup a listing on Flip and invite them to apply.

After you've screened your applicant and made your own decision you may want to get the green light from your landlord. Then you'll want to start the sublet. Keep reading for guidance on how to do these things:

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