Issues Arise Concerning Illegal Subleasing in Isla Vista

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As summer sessions approach, many students are scrambling to find subletters for their apartments. (Photo by Fabiola Esqueda / Staff Photographer)

Minh Hua
Staff Writer

With summer approaching fast, there have been numerous reports of unofficial subleasing as people complete rental agreements on their own, which is easier than going through their landlords.

“Most contracts include a clause requiring that owners or managers be informed in advance of any kind of sub-lease,” according to Isla Vista Tenants Union. However, the law says that illegal subletters can’t be denied permission to sublease as long as they meet the same credit standards that the original tenant met. But if a tenant subleases without prior consent, the sublease will be deemed invalid.

Illegal subletters have cited application fees, lengthy bureaucracy, and situational circumstances as the main reasons for their actions.

“I am subleasing from someone for my first time, mainly because I had no other option,” said one individual, who wished to remain anonymous.

The individual told The Bottom Line she will not stay in Santa Barbara over the summer, and she can’t afford to pay rent because the official lease starts in June. If her landlord had allowed the lease to start in September, when financial aid is available, then she would have gone through the legal paperwork.

The individual said that the benefit to illegal subletting is not paying rent when one is not living in the unit.

“The last thing I want is to get evicted and not have a space to live,” she said. “My parents are landlords themselves so I understand why some landlords are strict when it comes to this, but at the end of the day, we are students and landlords have to understand our situations more.”

The Free & For Sale (UCSB) and UCSB Free/For Sale Facebook groups have been two popular outlets where students advertise available subleasing units and prospective lessors look for places to live.

“I am looking for a subleaser on my own because when I was looking for a sublease myself, friends advised me to look up at these places as they were more efficient,” said Ishaan, who is subletting his unit and only wants his first name published. “I did it with hopes of finding more people here.”

“Going through the legal process with the renting office is often more complicated, especially with issues such as security deposit, if I were to hand over the lease to someone else,” one anonymous person wrote in a message to The Bottom Line. “There are risks such as the integrity of the person, property damages under your name, etc.”

There are also instances when the Facebook groups provide a useful advertising space for legal subletting.

“Technically the lease I signed says I can’t have a subleaser, but my landlord said he didn’t really care as long as I figured it out and he didn’t have to deal with it,” said Amanda Scheideman, a fourth year sociology major who is studying abroad and does not want to pay rent while she is abroad.

 “It would probably be easier going through my renting office if that was an option because this way is less official, and if I find someone they could back out last minute and I’d be screwed,” Scheideman said. “But the nice thing about it is I can meet the people and make sure they’ll get along with my other housemates once I’m gone.”

“The management company for my unit usually has the lessees find subleasers, and then they run their own background checks on them, so it isn’t really under the table,” said Adeena Kamra, a third year psychology major.

Policies regarding illegal subletting vary depending on different renting offices. Some Isla Vista landlords might be more relaxed, while others are stricter.

The Meridian Group’s Sample Lease states, “The Premises may not be sub-let in whole or in part without prior written consent from Lessor.” In addition, there is a $50 service and administrative charge for the processing of any sublease.

Harwin Co. allows subleases as long as one person from the lease resides in the property during this time.

“If a resident is caught with an illegal subleaser, they will be charged fines and fees of up to one month’s rent or more if there are other actions that break the lease,” according to The Hive’s policy on illegal subletting.

Students looking for help with a lease or subletting agreement can consult IVTU at (805) 968-6704 or the Community Housing Office at (805) 893-4371.