Free service assists renters in subletting apartment space

Regional Manager Danni Mao – Matthew Goldman for WSN

For students who live off campus, Flatbook could be the answer to leaving New York this summer without having to pay rent on an empty apartment.

Flatbook is a free service that takes care of the subletting process. It can cover up to 100 percent of rent and utilities, store the owner’s belongings in a private storage facility and handle the apartment until the end of the summer.

The Montreal-based real estate business is growing rapidly and has branches in 21 other cities. The new company launched its New York City branch in January and anticipates a busy season.

CAS junior Danni Mao, regional manager of Flatbook, explained the process. Mao said the online application includes contact information, pictures and a description of the apartment. If the residence is eligible, an interior designer, photographer and cleaning team rearrange the living space for Flatbook to market it to another client. After the 12-week sublet, the owner comes back for their keys and their apartment, exactly the way they left it.

Francis Davidson, president of Flatbook, highlighted the marketing strategy.

“[Flatbook] does a detailed market study of each city in which we operate in,” Davidson said. “Covering our client’s rents is all about achieving sufficiently high occupancy rates, which is what we are specialized in and best at.”

Flatbook user and McGill University student Aalawy Balala, who used the subletting service in Quebec, described the service as efficient and said she would use it again.

“My roommate and I were happy, our landlord was happy and the people at Flatbook were happy, too,” Balala said.

Not every apartment is eligible for Flatbook’s services. According to the company’s website, studios and one-bedroom apartments do not qualify for the program unless they are sufficiently upscale. The apartment must also be available for 12 weeks or longer between April and October. Furthermore, fully furnished apartments are better suited for Flatbook’s services.

Flatbook also offers a roommate relocation service for multi-tenant apartments when only one tenant will be staying in the city for the summer.

The application deadline to list your apartment with Flatbook in New York City is April 1. NYU students who apply before Feb. 15 will receive a $300 bonus on top of rent and students who apply before March 1 will receive a  $100 bonus on top of rent.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Feb. 13 print edition. Madeleine Ball is a contributing writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com.

*Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Aalawy Balala’s name as Aalaway. WSN regrets the error.

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