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Travel Preparation: Should I Terminate My Lease or Sublet My Apartment For Travel

Are you in the travel preparation face where you are thinking what you should do with your own apartment while being on the road traveling?

Many face this problem when they start thinking about their next big adventure. But there are two solutions to this problem: You can either terminate your lease or simply sublet your apartment while you are gone.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and in todays article I want to show you what might be the better solution for you!

Terminate Lease For Travel

There are many reasons why you would want to terminate your lease and leave behind your apartment to travel the world:

1. You don’t know what’s coming next

If you know that you will be gone for a few years and you have no idea when you will return and what you will do after your adventure, terminating your lease and selling most of your possessions might be a good alternative. Selling most of your things will also help you funding your trip even faster. It’s incredible how much stuff we collect over the years and are just collecting dust in a dark corner!

2. You want to be seriously free

No possessions, no responsibility, simply free! If this is what you want, to have no responsibility toward anybody, selling all your stuff and terminating your lease will be the way to go. Pack your most valuable things into a box and ship it to your parents and pack your backpack, your backpack is everything you own now!

3. No Plan B

Many keep their apartment etc. To have a plan B. Something to come back to. In my experience, no matter whether you are trying to travel the world or run a business, most of the time a plan B is always a bad idea because you will not give everything to make plan A work, because you always have the alternative to go back, either to your old apartment and old life or your old job!

Sublet Your Apartment For Travel

You might want to consider keeping your apartment when you are off traveling. Some of the reasons could be:

1. Awesome neighborhood

You might be living in an awesome neighborhood where the prices are already rising and it’s difficult to find new apartments, keeping your apartment would mean that you could come back after traveling, still paying the old renting prices and wouldn’t have to go through weeks of apartment hunting.

2. Extra cash to fund your travels

Since you would sublet your apartment with all your furniture you can ask for some extra cash. If you are traveling in a cheaper country, you could use the extra cash to fund part of your travels.

3. Plan B

I’m not a friend of alternatives but some people need this. If you aren’t sure that traveling for a long time is something you want to do and you want a place to come back to, you could simply sublet your apartment with a limited contract where you can cancel the subletting contract 4 weeks before moving back in. This way you can go back to your old life if you aren’t happy!

Tips on Terminating Your Lease

1. Check your lease

Make sure to check in the contract that you have a lease that has a specified term longer than one month. If you are on a month-to-month lease, you can actually cancel with a 30 days written notice to your landlord. You can do this anytime and don’t have to wait until the end of a month to give notice. If your contract doesn’t explicitly say that your lease is six month or a year or two, then it is legally considered to be a month-to-month lease.

2. Condition of the apartment an issue?

If the condition of the apartment is an issue, let your landlord know about all the repairs that need to be made to the apartment in order to make it livable. If the landlord doesn’t make the repairs, you have the right to terminate the lease and vacate the apartment 30 days after giving notice. You will often even find that landlords prefer to terminate a lease ASAP and have you vacate the apartment rather than making the repairs themselves.

3. Check prices in the neighborhood

If rents in your area have risen your landlord will be happy to terminate the lease and let you move out. It’s no problem to terminate a lease early if both parties agree. The landlord will be happy to see you go since he will be able to charge higher rents once you move out!

4. Clean up and leave the apartment in a good condition

This should be normal, but when you move out, leave the apartment clean and free of your personal belongings. Let your landlord know in writing that you have left and return ALL keys. The apartment should be in such condition that the landlord can easily rent it to a new tenant again!

Tipp: From my experience with landlords all over the world, I would recommend to do EVERYTHING in writing. Either by E-Mail or by Mail and always ask for a read confirmation.

Tips on Subletting Your Apartment

1. Ask for Permission

Make sure that your lease says explicitly that you can sublet your apartment. If it doesn’t make sure you have the written agreement of your landlord to do this!

2. Calculate the risks of subletting

Subletting is great but it’s not always safe. It opens your home to potential theft and damage, which at the end of the day, you will be responsible for. I’ve heard crazy stories but I’ve sublet my apartment a few times and most of the times things were good! There are ways to minimize these risks but not to eliminate them!

3. Act like a landlord because you are one!

I acted like a friend first until tenants started to take advantage of me. I quickly changed the tone and the way of communication and things started to go the way I wanted. When you sublet your apartment you automatically become a landlord.

4. Take “before moving in” photos, have a move-in checklist signed and have a contact in the area!

Before your new tenant moves in you should have before photos of everything this will help you should your tenant break something or leave the apartment in a bad condition when moving out. One of my tenants poured candle wachs and a glass of wine over my white walls and tried to paint it over with a different white. What was left, were grey stains all over the wall. With the pictures I could confront him and show him that it wasn’t this way when he moved in!

Also have them sign a move-in checklist with all the things you will leave in the apartment!

Just in case, since you will be traveling, leave a second key with a trusted friend or family member that should come and check regularly and maybe check the mail for you. Pay this person or offer them something else in return, since they are doing you a huge favor!

Tip: You can check your mail from your travels. Simply set up an online mailbox with a company like Dropscan and let your national mail carrier forward your mail to your Dropscan address!

Want to make even more money with subletting your apartment?

If you want to make even more money with subletting your apartment and you live in a really cool and popular city you should get on board with AirBnB or 9Flats. Simply register your apartment, have somebody come and take professional photos, leave your keys with a trusted friend and give him the rights to your AirBnB account and promise him a big commission on every person he rents out the apartment to.

Your friend would have to take care that the apartment is always clean and that everything works as described in the online listing.

Subletting your apartment via AirBnB or other peer to peer networks like 9Flats, Wimdu etc… is a great way to cash in much more than by simply subletting it for a few months. Travelers and tourists are willing to pay more for staying in a short time in a local neighborhood!

For a 60 sqm apartment with 2 rooms in Berlin you can make between 1.300 and 2.000 € month if you rent it out on a regular basis!

What I have done!

In the last 6 years I have lived and owned apartments in 6 countries and rented apartments in 5 different countries. 4 out of the 5 apartments I’ve rented I terminated the lease before the agreement ended with some painful experiences in between, like the landlords not paying the total bond back or finding damages in the apartment that were already there etc… I’ve had my fair cut with bad landlords and therefore I know that it isn’t always easy but if you are prepared and don’t rush into things, like I tend to, you’ll probably manage to get out and terminate a lease early!

Today I am renting an apartment in Berlin for almost two year now and it feels good to have a home base as a traveler. I’m allowed to sublet it and this is what I do. I have renovated the apartment and have good furniture in it. I add an additional margin on top of the rent and utilities just because my new tenant is using my things and he doesn’t have to go and buy new things!

When I travel for a shorter period 1 to 2 months at a time I try to sublet it via peer to peer networks like AirBnB or 9Flats. When I’m gone for longer periods, like earlier this year, where I lived 5 months in southern Sweden I sublet it to just one person.

As mentioned before, subletting it via AirBnB and such you can make quite a lot of money. One of my best friends just lives around the corner and has a key to my apartment. When I’m gone, she takes care that when somebody moves in the apartment is clean and somebody is there when the new interim tenant comes to collect the keys. If it’s more than one time, she gets a cut from the total rent I make. When it’s just once I treat her to a very nice dinner because I know how much work it is to take care and rent an apartment.

Are you planning to travel the world for a longer time and thinking of terminating your lease or subletting your apartment? What will you decide for?

Sebastian Canaves
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