If you’ve been lucky enough to navigate the treacherous waters of the rental housing market in the city and land yourself the perfect place — cheap, clean and perfectly located — you don’t need to be a student to have some sense of the anxiety that comes as summer approaches. If you’re heading home, to Europe for the summer (lucky dog), or heading out of town for a job – three grimy but lucrative months on Alberta’s oil patch, say, or toiling at the convivial but bug-infested task of tree-planting — you might not want to give up your perfect pad, so you’re confronted with the prospect of subletting.
If word of mouth is not an option, you can advertise your place with everything from low-tech photocopied posters in Laundromats and student centres to higher tech venues like Craigslist.org, or online rental websites like Sublet.com, TOsublet.com or Rentershotline.ca. If you’re a student, your campus housing office will help you connect with a short-term tenant that they might even have vetted ahead of time, and will provide advice, legal and otherwise; the University of Toronto’s student housing office, for instance, insists that you get signed permission from your landlord to sublet, and will provide the necessary form.
U of T’s student housing office also suggests that you get in touch with the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (416-921-9494) for further information. If you’ve paid a security deposit to your landlord, it might be a good idea to get one from your tenant, keeping in mind that it cannot exceed two months of rent, and that it has to be returned to the tenant 30 days after their sublease is over. A contract would also be useful, laying out the conditions and term of the sublease, and can be obtained from sites like Sublet.com for a fee.
At this point, common sense takes over. Assume that whatever you leave in your place will be used by your tenant; they will read your books and play your CDs.
If you don’t want something touched, take it with you, but emptying your place of everything but a chair, a spoon and a bare light bulb will probably violate the terms of your sublease.
Emptying your fridge isn’t a bad idea, though, and you might want to negotiate the use of towels and sheets. There’s no reason to imagine that they might be luckier than you, and have viscous, damp summer sex on your bed, and if the image alone is enough to make you shudder, you might want to ask them to bring their own bedding.
You have just under two months to find a tenant and get your rent taken care of for the summer, so the time to start is now. With enough lead time, you might even be able to screen a few potential tenants, and put your skill at reading people to a test.
And when June rolls around, you can leave your keys with the super, put a note with your contact numbers on the kitchen table with a stack of take-out menus, and look forward to waking up in your Amsterdam hostel in the middle of the night, wondering if that sweet grad student living in your place is actually a dominatrix, and if you’ll return to find a lynch mob of your neighbours waiting for you.
But hey — have an awesome summer.