Survival guide: subletting

Are you planning a big trip or are you going to live abroad for a few months? Congratulations! That’s what many people just dream of. But what will happen to your apartment while you're away? The best option is subletting! No risk – no fun! We have put together six subletting survival strategies – for you and your apartment. ;-)


Level 1: Leave your comfort zone (or base camp) and sublet your apartment

Subletting – for some, the word alone triggers a strong reaction. Gasping for breath, wobbly knees, heart palpitations. Not dissimilar from a reaction to a snake bite. But completely unfounded. For others, choosing to rent out their house when they're not using it themselves is the most natural thing in the world.

  • Risk: You're leaving your comfort zone and entering unknown terrain. Entrusting and subletting your apartment, your home, to a stranger? Of course, why not?
  • Trump card: Deposit! If something breaks, you’ve got something up your sleeve to pay for the possible damage or repairs. Three months’ rent is the maximum.
  • Challenge: The biggest challenge when subletting your own home is the mental challenge! You will have to overcome your own fears (“What if he’s part of Hells Angels?”) and weaknesses (“I’ll have to get rid of all the clutter before I can let someone else live here!”).
  • Survival tip: Above all, in order to sublet your apartment, you will need, as well as the right attitude, the okay from the landlord! Have you got their written consent? Congratulations, level complete. You're ready to move on to the next level.



Level 2: Subletting: no risk – no fun

Subletting your apartment is like reading tracks – you can learn to do it and it gets easier over time as you master the basics and the different techniques. After a while, it becomes intuitive and you no longer need to think about it.

  • Risk: scratches, dents, stains. The newer and more expensive your flat is, the riskier it is to rent it out. Unless you're not bothered about your material possessions.
  • Trump card: Ensure that your subtenant has liability insurance. That will cover the cost of any possible damage. Have you thought about becoming a member of a tenants’ association?
  • Challenge: If you see subletting as a battle, then it will be harder than it needs to be. Subletting is an adventure, it's exciting, fascinating and usually a win-win situation.
  • Survival tip: make some space! Do you want to leave the furniture and most of your belongings in your house while you rent it out? You need to empty out wardrobes and drawers and store your things elsewhere so that you subtenant doesn’t have to live out of a suitcase. Pictures of you with your partner, nude photos and other private things should be cleared away. In fact, all your personal belongings such as cameras, computers, jewellery and documents are best stored elsewhere, for example in a storage unit! Do you agree? Then on to the next level!

Level 3: Find a subtenant

Survival is the art of always having a roof over your head. So, don't leave your home, whether it's a tent, cave or apartment, unattended. Do you know that you're going to be away from home for the next few months? Then it makes sense to sublet your apartment. Subletting means that your apartment will be regularly aired, heated in winter, the plants will be watered and your post might even be taken care of – and most importantly – burglars won't be tempted by an empty flat.

  • Risk: As the main tenant, you bear responsibility for any damage even in your absence!
  • Trump card: Ask around your friends and acquaintances to see if they happen to know anyone who is looking for a temporary home.
  • Challenge: First, find a nice, quiet, party-shy, tidy, clean, reliable tenant who regularly transfers you the agreed subletting rent amount. Perhaps they can also take care of your post or plants?
  • Survival tip: Have you found your dream subtenant? Great! They might even agree to take on your cheap telephone rates or pay the TV licence? But just in case they decide to drop out of the agreement at short notice, you need to put 2-3 months' rent to one side. Got the money together? Then go to level 4.



Level 4: Foreign terrain? Possible risks and how to protect yourself

Survival doesn't mean fighting as hard as you can and fleeing from any potentially risky situation that you come across. Rather, it means navigating the urban jungle and making use of the available opportunities to protect yourself.

  • Risk: The subtenant pulling out, no rent payments, vandalism – there are various risks when you sublet your apartment, but luckily there is also protection to keep the risks as low as possible.
  • Trump card: Trust is good – control is better! If you rent out your house, you become the landlord and need to put a subletting contract in place that precisely regulates and records everything. That minimises the risk!
  • Challenge: Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a golden goose or a continuous source of wealth. Subletting your apartment brings in money. Every month, if everything goes smoothly, you can earn up to 20 percent more rent by subletting your apartment furnished.
  • Survival tip: Still not sure? Ask for an extract from the Swiss debt collection register for extra reassurance! Everything ready to go? Great, then level 5 is waiting for you.

Level 5: Subletting, but what to do with your own furniture and valuables?

Survival is about being free from the luxuries of civilisation and just surviving on very little. If you're moving out of your apartment, you need to consider: what you need, what you can do without (in the worst case forever) and which furniture or things you want to hang on to and need to put safely in storage. 

  • Risk: Theft, vandalism, party animal, pyromaniac or extreme pet collector. Trump card: Your apartment is incredibly robust and resilient. It’ll be OK, even without you! Your belongings are safely stored in a storage unit.
  • Challenge: If you sublet your apartment unfurnished and remove all your furniture and valuable belongings, then you will need a suitable place to store your them to keep everything safe and dry. Rocky ledges, caves, a dark corner of your friend’s house or in your parents’ basement.
  • Survival tip: Want to be free and not reliant on others? Then you can rent your own storage unit and safely store some of your belongings or valuables or even all of your furniture. Is everything safely stowed? You've almost made it – the last level.



Level 6: Subletting with a plan right up to the end.

Survival is the art of learning new things and taking on new challenges. Whether you're learning how to make fire or sublet your apartment. At the beginning it’s all new and takes time and effort, but at the end, when it works, you’re happy!

  • Risk: Hectic! You want/have to get away quickly, the subtenant is also pressed for time? That doesn't matter. You have to leave enough time for the formalities and the apartment handover, at least one hour!
  • Challenge: Make an inventory list (10 mugs, 3 pots, 1 pan, etc.) and make a note of the condition that these items are in. Take photos to document the current state of the flat, walls, windows, bath, mirrors, lights and décor as you leave the flat. Give the list to your subtenant to sign! It takes time, but it is time well spent. Then you are both on the safe side!
  • Survival tip: Leave a house key with someone that you trust and who lives nearby so that they can check that everything is OK and get your post. That could be a friend, your parents or a nice neighbour! Then you can finally shut the door. From the outside. Feel good? Congratulations: mission accomplished. The game starts again from scratch next time round.



The Ultimate Survival Guide

Sublettling your appartment like a pro

If you go abroad and sublet your flat, there are a few things you should keep in mind. With this checklist, everything will be just as you left it when you return.