Must-do's when renting to subtenant

Rent it Right

Q: My three roommates and I rented a house for the year. One roommate left for the summer and sublet his room to a friend, Max. Max has not paid his share of the rent, and we want to evict him. Can we do this? –Terry B.

A: It’s a shame that your traveling roommate didn’t set up the sublet in a way that would have protected you. The best way to handle these arrangements is for the original tenant to continue to be responsible for his share of the rent. The subtenant pays his rent to the original tenant, who in turn pays it to you. That way, the absent tenant bears the risk that the sub won’t come through, which is as it should be. After all, you’re not the ones who decided to leave. If anyone has to deal with a defaulting replacement, it should be the tenant who put him there in the first place.

But alas, it sounds like this is not how you set things up when Max moved in. Now, you’ve definitely got a problem.

First, you and the other roommates (and the absent one, if you can get to him) will have to come up with the entire rent or risk termination for nonpayment. The landlord doesn’t care who pays, or in what proportion; all he cares about is getting a full month’s rent when it’s due. Your problems with roommates who won’t pay their shares, or subtenants who won’t pay on behalf of absent roommates, are your problems alone.