Whose job is it when the housemate wants to sublet for a chunk of time, say a summer or a semester to find someone to sublet? If you don’t think about it, the quick answer is that the housemate whose space will be sublet should be the one who does the work of posting ads, handling emails and phone calls and interviewing people. Afterall, they are leaving and creating this problem for the household. It’s their room(s) that are being sublet. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for unhappiness. It may be fine between the two people—the subletter and the subletee, but there are more people to consider!
The issue is that the person who is moving into the room is going to be a housemate in the house! The person who goes away isn’t going to be living with the subletter. Because that is true and the subletter is anxious to find someone to foot the bill, it’s easy to simply agree to have someone move in who may not be suitable for the household at all! This can lead to a horrible housemate story, where the subletter allows someone to move in who turns out to be a disaster for the rest of the household. We’ve heard stories like that.
A Better Way
The person/people who will be living with the housemate must participate in the decision about who is moving in. This should be a shared responsibility. The housemate whose room is to be sublet can do the basic legwork on finding their replacement—writing up an announcement, posting it and circulating it, and fielding the initial contacts. But once there is a viable candidate it should be the person/people living in the space to interview the subletter. In that interview, they are learning about each other and building their relationship. This is an essential step. It is the subletter and the other housemates who have to have an agreement about how they will live together. Yeah, it takes time and it’s a pain. But it isn’t as much of a pain as discovering that you are stuck with a nightmare housemate.
If the subletter and the remaining housemates can’t agree on a person to sublet the space then the subletter must either pay for the room to keep it or let it go. Most likely letting it go is the better choice for all. For the subletter who is leaving, their experience away might change their priorities so that moving back into the space is no longer the preferred option.
Roommates who want to sublet is a tricky situation that can be handled with ease when everyone realizes that they share responsibility for making it smooth and comfortable.
And it is certainly NOT the case that the remaining people simply pay the extra costs of the room while the person is away!