Sublet safety tips

Make sure you're allowed to sublet your apartment. "You always need to get the landlord's permission first," Says Miller, COO of

Tips to consider before subletting your apartment:

Call past landlords for references. Try to do a credit check, too.

Write a detailed contract that specifies the length of the sublease, the address, the amount of rent and when it's due. Include clauses that say the subleasee is financially liable for damages and unpaid rent.

Collect a security deposit to cover any damages. Take photos and make a list of everything in the apartment, and have the subleasee review it and sign it.

Change the name on all utility bills for the duration of the sublease to avoid getting slapped with a hefty Con Ed bill or phone bill.

Better safe than sorry

What you should know about renter's insurance

We're quick to insure our lives, our cars, sometimes even our body parts. But we, a population of 6 million tenants in New York, often fail to inure the possessions under our roofs with renters' insurance.

"Many people don't even know about the existence of renters' insurance," says Michael Semko, counsel for the National Apartment Association. That's a serious problem, he says, in a city that logged more than 28,000 phone calls related to structural fires last year.

You probably need it

"If you have assets you need to protect, then you need renters' insurance," says Kip Diggs, spokesman for State Farm Insurance.

Your building owner's insurance policy probably won't replace your laptop, sofa and $200 pair of jeans in the event of a blaze or burglary. A landlord's or management company's policy usually covers damage to the overall building, not the individual apartment units and the property inside.

One more note: one policy per unit isn't necessarily enough. Experts say roommates should get individual policies.

What it covers

Renters insurance generally covers the loss of personal property in cases of theft, storm damage and fires, but usually not in cases of floods and natural disasters.

The insurance also helps in cases where a tenant would be legally liable. For example, if someone slips and falls in your home and decides to later sue you, a renters policy would likely have you covered.

The two types

"Actual cash value coverage" pays the depreciated value of the lost or damaged assets.

"Replacement cost coverage" covers the cost to replace an item. The premium on this is usually 10% more, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

What it costs

According to the Insurance Information Institute, average renters in New York state pay $207 annually, or about $17 per month. An inventory of your property will provide a sense of how much coverage you'll need.

Discount options

"Multilining," or buying various insurance policies from one source -- like renters insurance and life insurance -- can sometimes result in a reduced rate. Some insurers will also offer a discount for having preventive devices like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.