How to make subletting successful: 14 notes for landlords and tenants

After many years of renting private apartments in Stockholm for complete summers or shorter stays in between, I had the chance to gather a lot of experience. Sometimes I would have preferred not to gather them. But the degree of cleanliness is relative.

Most of the times, my Swedish landlords have been very nice and well prepared. They wanted me as their guest to feel comfortable and be informed for situations that might occur during my stay. They showed me around and gave me very helpful information in every room, as “Never use the socket in the living-room, otherwise the electricity will be gone in the complete apartment. Forever.”

I felt welcome! And not only because I was offered to use this sweet bed linen.

So it hit me quite unexpected when I realized that my current rental has not been prepared at all. Themed “How to get most money with least effort” I was left with an apartment I have to domesticate day by day. It took me two weeks and a lot of struggle to finally get the wifi that was promised to exist by the date of my arrival.

IF they would have cleaned the oven in the last 25 years, I would not have found myself jumping on a slippery chair panic-fueled trying to calm down the screeming fire-detector surrounded by smoke.

IF they would have told me that there is a hidden pipe behind the washing machine I would not have been standing in a flooded bathroom, being well informed about untidy corners, as many things you do not want to know swam in the water. Cleaning up old tampons, tooth-cleaning stuff and bunches of hair was worse then having tea time with a tarantula. OK, almost as disgusting.

Keep in mind: Each minute preparing pays off multiple! It spares both sides hundreds of sms, amendment and anger. And what’s better than a happy tenant sitting on your white sofa with his brown tea?

How to be a good landlord

1. Your tenant is not an unexpected inheritance you profit of only. You are equal contract partners. So treat him as you want to be treated in the same situation. In case you agreed on some special terms for the rental – e.g. presence of wifi or a baby stroller-, make sure you implement your part properly until the day your guest moves in. Don’t just take the money, hand out a key and run away hoping the tenant will forget about his needs. He won’t.

2. The person moving in is a complete stranger to your apartment. He oder she does not know any of the small workarounds you do in everyday life to get half broken stuff going or to avoid that it breaks completely. So please take some minutes to collect all information that is necessary. For example: “To get the 25 year old vacuum cleaner going you have to hit the left button 20 times in the rythm of “We will rock you” while pressing the right button with your foot. Then it might start. If not use the hand-brush.”

3. Please think of the travel stress your tenant had when he or she enters the door. He might not be able to remember all the 100 things you tell and show him. It’s best to write a list with the most important information as door codes, door code changes, wifi-password, laundry room number for the booking system and emergency contacs in case something happens during your absence.

4. Clean, clean, clean. You never know how picky your tenant is. Clean therefore more than you would do it for yourself. Your dirt might feel comfortable and cosy. You got used to it for years. Every nasty stuff the tenant sees during his tour de force directly after moving in will stay in his mind. Every day.

5. It is completely understandable not to give grandmas wedding china or your egyptian cotton bed linen to a stranger. But on the other hand it should also not be staff you wanted to throw away anyway. Don’t offer generously to use the food in the kitchen if the best before date ended directly after second world war.

6. In case you have 25 flowers to be watered or post to be send after ask you tenant friendly if he would be so kind to do that. Don’t just disappear hoping that your tenant will not be able to watch your flowers die in small steps. Your tenant pays a very good sum for his stay and is not your housekeeper.

7. Inform the tenant if he is living in your apartment officially with the permission of the housing corporation. Usually neighbours would never ever talk to a stranger in Stockholm, even if the stranger lives beside them since ten years, but you never know. And then it might be for your advance to have your tenant say he is just a friend staying for a little while.

How to be a good tenant:

1. Respect the privacy of your landlord. Even if staff is not saved by a huge lock, it does not mean you have to take it out without permission or look at the owners baby fotos. Maybe they would not mind. But anything not officially permitted should be taboo.

2. Please keep in mind that your landlord has to live there some more years. So he might not be amused when the neighbours hate him after you left. No parties, no strangers in the apartment, no loud music and no naked yoga on the balcony.

3. Take care for the apartment as if it would be your own. Or better. Depends on the mess you might like to live in by yourselve.

4. In case you destroy something, replace it directly. If you burn down the house completely, let the insurance take over and exercise to look as sheepish as possible.

5. Make some pictures directly after moving in. In case you move furniture or redecorate a bit it will be easier in the end to put everything in its old place. Or do you want your landlord to search in panic for his Van Gogh?

6. In case you enjoy eating your spare ribs on the white sofa, cover it with a sheet for the time of your stay. It’s much easier to replace a piece of fabric than the complete sofa.

7. When your renting period ends, clean, clean, clean. At least reinstall the status you found when moving in. If it was awful, it’s not necessary to collect dirt from the street and to create the former mess.

Now I wish you all a very happy stay in your parttime-homes and the landlords a peaceful return into your own apartment.

Did I forget something? If you have points to add, just write them below as a comment. Would be nice to hear about your own experiences with 2nd-hand-rental in Stockholm!