Students share subleasing wisdom, woes
Come April, it’s impossible to escape the tide of subleasing posts on Facebook as desperate students look for someone, anyone, to take over their leases for the summer.
On the surface, the process seems simple enough. Make a post, wait for an interested renter to contact you, make arrangements and move out.
But subleasing is actually much more complicated than that.
Subleasing by definition is the leasing of part or all of the property held by a tenant, as opposed to a landlord, during a portion of his or her unexpired balance of the term of occupancy. Essentially, it’s when the original owner of the lease has to find someone to take over before the lease has run out.
Some apartments help students find renters. Tivoli Apartments, for example, keeps a subleasing binder in its leasing office that individuals can look through to find a place that’s right for them.
The Retreat, on the other hand, doesn’t offer subleasing services. Students have to find someone to take over their leases on their own, and then the two must go together to the office to sort out all the paperwork.
On top of the searching process, students looking to sublease often have to pay fees. These fees can range from $100 to $500, depending on the apartment.
For example, Plaza on University and The Edge charge $250 in subleasing fees, while Knights Circle and The Pointe charge $350. Orion on Orpington charges subleasers 85 percent of one’s month rent, which can range anywhere from $400 to $500.
And these aren’t the only fees involved. Most apartments also charge the individual taking over the lease, as they have to pay signing fees, application fees or security fees. These often range from $99 to $250.
These fees raise the question, if subleasing is so expensive, why don’t residents just sign shorter leases?
Many apartments in the area only offer 12-month leases. Shorter leases, like those lasting 7 or 8 months, are often only available for a short time during the year and many apartments will only offer a certain number of them.
Some places, such as Tivoli Apartments, will negotiate short-term leases, but only if every person leasing the apartment agrees to the terms.
Others, such as Orion on Orpinton, offer a “grad clause” to students graduating in the fall so they can get out of their lease early, although it comes with an additional fee.
There are many reasons students try to sublease their apartments, from moving home for the summer to graduating.
No matter the reason why they’re leaving their apartments early, many UCF students are struggling to find people to rent out their soon-to-be vacant rooms.
Christian Tsamoutales, a junior psychology major, said the process has been “ridiculously difficult.”
He has been trying to find someone to sublet his room in a townhouse in Walden Chase through Facebook and has made multiple posts on different UCF class pages looking for potential renters.
“People are extremely inconsiderate. [They] never read the information in posts I’ve made. People will message me interested and when I message back, I won’t ever get replies,” Tsamoutales said. “Mainly people, specifically people who don’t know much about renting, are difficult to deal with.”
Marina Riberio, a senior marketing major who’s graduating and leaving the area for the summer, said she knew she would have to sublease her apartment and wasn’t looking forward to the process.
“It’s been hard. I’ve been posting on all the class pages and on Craigslist,” she said.
Riberio added that while she thinks more apartments should offer shorter leases, they don’t because it makes them more money.
It is a sentiment shared by Maree Cruz, a junior hospitality management major.
She said that although shorter leases would be more convenient, she understands that apartments often make money when students have to break a lease.
Cruz is moving home to save money, something she wasn’t planning on doing when she first signed her lease just a month ago. Now, after only living at University House for a short time, she has been having a lot of difficulty finding someone to take over her new lease.
“Subletting has been terrible. It’s extremely hard to find someone, to find the money for all the fees and find a reliable person,” she said. “There’s always that person that says they will take over your lease and then back out last minute. Subleasing will be the death of anyone. I hate it.”
Despite her own difficulties, Cruz shared some advice for students looking to sublet their apartments.
“Start posting on websites as soon as you find out you need to move out,” she said, adding that students should use as many social media sites as possible to widen their search.
She also suggested that students should be safe with their search by avoiding posting anything personal such as their apartment number and by meeting with potential renters with a friend or family member in a public place before conducting any apartment visits.
Tsamoutales offered much simpler advice.
“Keep making posts, be annoying,” he said. “And oversell the crap out of your roommates.”
Deanna Ferrante is a digital producer with the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @deannaferrante or email her at DeannaF@centralfloridafuture.com.