Room for rent sign in a door

Keeping your room while away - and saving the rent

November 30, 2022
Author: Michael Witcomb, Off-Campus Housing Coordinator

A guide to subletting and assigning your housing

If you’re leaving town for a while, you might want to hang on to your rental accommodation or even be thinking about making some money back. While you’re not using your room, it might be possible to get another student to rent it temporarily or even cover the cost. There are some questions to ask first:  

What if I share with my landlord? 

Lots of students share a house with their landlord and are not formally contracted. This is the most flexible arrangement for everyone and your landlord may agree to a replacement lodger while you’re gone. It’s entirely their choice so make sure to talk about it with them ahead of time, usually at least month in advance. You could help find someone new for your room through the VIU Student Union (VIUSU) app or Places4Students Roommate Finder. The Rent Smart Roommate Guide and Questions can help find the right fit, too.  

What if I have a one-year lease and want to go away for a while?

The more frequent inquiry comes from students on a fixed-term contract, usually a one-year lease. You’re planning on studying abroad for a semester, for example, and want to keep your room for when you return. It is possible to sublet your rental with written permission from your landlord and at least six months remaining on your lease. It will help to give plenty of notice and show that you are actively seeking a good tenant. As you’ll still be responsible to your landlord for rent and damages, you’ll want to make sure you find someone good as well! And, unless you have a contract that says otherwise, you might be able to stay living in the same place after the year is up. Or, if you simply decide you don’t want to keep your room, there’s the possibility you can assign it to another tenant – hopefully a VIU student!

I’m on a month-to-month contract. Can I sublet?  

If you have a periodic (usually month-to-month) contract, you can’t sublet. It’s probably as simple as giving a month’s notice in the normal way. It’s possible that you come to an arrangement with the next tenant and the landlord to take back the tenancy when you return. This would be on a case-by-case basis.


For more information about any of the above, get in touch with Michael in VIU Off-Campus Housing at Off-Campus Housing also has lots of useful resources and links.

Michael Witcomb is VIU's Off-Campus Housing Coordinator.

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