BY KATE SHELLNUTT – MEDILL NEWS SERVICE
Spring is the peak time for sublet-searching, and with the current economy, more renters are feeling the pinch of that monthly check and offering up rooms in their city digs.
Available rooms are popping up in major cities across the country (for a good visual, take a look at housingmaps.com, a clickable Google map of Craigslist housing ads).
Specialty short-tem housing Web sites like SubletSmart and Sublet.com have also seen demand shoot up from both ends— more people subletting rooms to soften rent costs and more people preferring shorter, month-to-month leases because of shaky job situations.
“Spring is definitely our highest period. It’s when people are moving places for the summer, whether its college students coming to Chicago or leaving for an internship or job,” said Howard Miller, CEO of New York-based Sublet.com. The site currently lists more than 800 available short-term rentals in Chicago.
While all properties on his site have undergone screening to make sure the landlord has a responsible record, Miller offers some advice for what any subletter can do to help insure they’ve found a good place and legit deal.
1. Look for any reviews of the building, landlord or unit by previous tenants.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask the person renting out the unit for documentation. Review a copy of the lease to make sure that person is actually on it and has the right to offer it to you.
3. Ask for a copy of the utility bills to get a good sense of additional expenses on top of monthly rent.
4. See pictures of the building and the room so that you don’t move into a place that isn’t what you expected.
5. Meet the person and visit the unit if possible. Otherwise, have a friend to stop by and check it out.