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A cautionary tale of subletting

I have an adventure to share with you, friends, an odyssey that begins with a young man’s faith in miracles being dashed to pieces by the ignoble wheels of fate. In other words, I got a pretty bad number in the housing lottery last year and ended up living off-campus.

The true meat of the story, however, lies in the summer process of securing and dealing with the subletters.

They were all rather polite and accommodating; they kept the house reasonably clean, they paid their rent on time, they mentioned stuff that was bothering them about the residence, kept their complaints to a minimum, etc. It was all standard fare; however, there were a few particular articles that stuck out to me.

For one, it was actually kind of hard to find subletters willing to live at our particular apartment. Also, due to the fact that summer subletting is arguably a buyer’s market (i.e. there are more apartments offering summer housing than there are people looking to sublet), my housemates and I had to subsidize a portion of the rent the subletters would pay per month to the tune of $25-$75 dollars a month, depending on how long they’d plan on staying. In other words, someone who would stay for only one month would only be subsidized $25, while someone staying for the full three months would be, in total, subsidized for $225. The rent for our apartment was already pricy at the cost of $800 a month with utilities. Should you decide to find subletters for the summer, you ought to really start as early as you can; though if you don’t, it’s also still possible to find stragglers if you’re willing to attempt stitching together an unstable web of people coming and going throughout the entirety of the summer. I tell you, it was actually pretty arduous and miserable.

There was also the issue of collecting the rent. That was relatively simple. It was typically just a very regimented process: meet subletter, count money, place money in envelope, write receipt, leave. The only thing that took me by surprise on this front was that the majority of the payments were almost exclusively given in $20 bills, the reason for this being that they are seemingly the largest denomination of cash that is found in the campus ATMs. Also, there was that one time a subletter tried swindling us out of a hundred dollars. Should you consider subletting a house this summer, make sure to either take checks or count your subtenants’ money. You never know when you might encounter an innocent mistake or premeditated delinquency.

Another thing I didn’t expect was how one of my fellow tenants did not know what an air conditioner was. It was upon mentioning the inclusion of air conditioning within the subletters’ secondary leases that this revelation was struck. To clarify, he’d legitimately confused tower fans to be some form of an “air conditioner,” or a device which literally conditions the air—in this case, through moving it around a lot and not allowing a person to develop a literal, physically present aura of heat that envelops his or her body. Although this minor stipulation later came back to haunt us (we ended up buying real window air-conditioners in the end due to complaints), this discovery was, admittedly, really funny.

Other things had occurred—spontaneous reports of mice, finding myself curiously smitten with a subtenant, a group cleaning session—but there’s nothing else of particular note that I might have mentioned in the midst of all the monotonous humdrum that predominantly characterized the experience. In any case, it might have been simpler to have succeeded in securing on-campus housing for the school-year, because the first phase of what it means to live off-campus kind of sucked and I hope future subleasers will have an easier time dealing with things than I did during that summer with my co-tenant.

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