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You and seven of your freshman-year friends just signed a lease on the perfect Beige Block party house. The only problem is the lease starts in September — and you’ve already decided to take summer classes. Or maybe your lease starts in June but you’ve already put your Wharton education to use and accepted an internship in New York City. Either way, you’ll need to look into subletting.

I went into my first subletting experience completely unprepared. I ended up spending my summer in a mouse-infested house on 40th and Pine streets with a Spanish gynecologist named Alfredo and a University of Delaware pre-freshman who wanted to spend his last summer before college in the “big city,” kept 10 tubs of margarine in our refrigerator and would frequently get drunk on sake in the afternoon — alone.

You first need to know that most sublets are priced at half to three-fourths the price of the apartment during the school year. If you don’t discount your house, you’ll be hard pressed to find a subletter.

An important piece of advice is to sublet to and from your friends. Ask around. Living with friends of a friend is a much safer bet than living with strangers. And if it’s your apartment, you’ll rest more easily knowing your friends are less likely to trash it.

I also recommend starting your search early. This is where I went wrong. While many people don’t know their plans for the summer until April, it is possible to find a great place to live in before then. An early start is especially helpful if you end up subletting to or from a stranger.

If you are into subletting to or from someone you don’t know, try Craigslist, The Daily Pennsylvanian’s classified ads and the flyers in the Van Pelt bathrooms. Craigslist may seem sketchy, but you can usually tell from the posting whether the person goes to Penn, which is the safest way to go.

Before you sign anything, meet the person you are subletting from or to, and — if possible — the people you will be living with. During my first meeting with “margarine man,” he locked me out of the house and asked if I had ever been to Allegro. Had I met him earlier, I would have known what I was in for.

Finally, make sure to check with your landlord before subletting your apartment. Everyone has different procedures. Similarly, if you are spending the summer in someone else’s apartment, you’ll probably need to complete some paperwork with the landlord.

Remember that summer is long. You don’t want to spend it in a dump with people you can’t stand, and you really don’t want to return to Penn to find your once-pristine bedroom turned into a scene from Animal House. Return to the Housing Guide home page

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