January. The new year. A new quarter. And, for the fortunate, the removal of subleasers – those strangers who entered our homes, moistened our furniture and unabashedly occupied valuable refrigerator space while our chosen roommates expanded their horizons in exciting foreign locales through first-quarter abroad programs.

It’s true. Like hangovers, midterms and the occasional chlamydia flare-up, subleasers are a necessary evil of college life. Sooner or later, in any given house in Isla Vista, roommates will decide to take a semester at sea, get an internship on the other side of the country, go to Guam to “find themselves,” or go to Amsterdam because they heard hash is, like, way easy to get over there. Whatever the reason, a house is soon beset with the responsibility of finding what amounts to a rent check with legs.

The search is like looking for a kidney donor. Housemates start hunting for friends hanging around I.V. for an extra quarter or so. When that search turns up zilch, the breadth is extended to friends of friends, then to friends of friends of friends, and finally to that nice girl who sat next to you on the bus once. The threat of coughing up the missing rent soon looms. Rather than spending a few months on subleaser search dialysis, a house makes that dreaded move: placing a classified ad in the Nexus.

This is trouble waiting to happen. A classified ad is like an open invitation to a parade of losers and lunatics poking about the house, each less appealing than the last and all of them reminding the housemates that there’s a very good reason these folks don’t have somewhere to live already. And it only takes one stray comment to provide a glimpse into a potential subleaser’s personal life that effectively eliminates them from the running.

“Hey, is it okay if I bring my pets? I have a few parrots.”

“Wow! What a great kitchen! Is it cool if when I cook I fry stuff? Like, a lot?”

“It’ll be just like ‘Friends!'”

“Do you guys like vampires?”

“I’m from Texas.”

With the standard “Thanks. We’ll give you a call,” the front door is shut, locked and deadbolted. Housemates convene and decide which one is the least objectionable and begrudgingly accept them into the house.

It should be mentioned now that not all subleasers are necessarily bad people. Sometimes the personalities can click perfectly and a house makes a new friend. Everybody calls each other years after graduation and sends Christmas cards. If you get one of these, fall to your knees and thank whatever deity you find the most appropriate. But let’s be realistic. Lest one forget, a body can sometimes reject a transplanted kidney.

My house’s subleasing days are long past. The barbarians have been pushed far beyond the city gates. But if your house will be invaded during Winter and Spring Quarters, know the four basic types of regrettable intruders.

The first and most common is the fifth-year senior who’s picking up that last quarter before they shove off into the working world. The house that gets an engineer or a biopsychologist is good; studybugs don’t have time to be a pain in the ass. If they are in certain less academically intensive fields of study, however, the housemates should prepare to cope with a two-champagne-bottles-a-day roomie, drinking like he’s a loan shark and his liver owes him $200.

The Pucks of I.V., like their “Real World” namesake, are outcasts, thrown out of their former homes for rampant asshole antics. If the subleaser says his last house asked him to leave, his new roommates are in for a quarter of snotrockets.

Another to avoid is No Friends Freddie. He comes in making sure to explain that he subleases because “it’s just not a good idea to live with you friends, you know? I do it every quarter.” Yeah, sure it’s not. The friends don’t exist and neither does Freddie’s ability to interact with other humans.

And finally, while living with our foreign friends can often be an eye-opening opportunity and a way to truly appreciate the subtle intricacies of the non-American mindset, people who were not born in the United States can sometimes not fully understand the proper operation of our bathroom fixtures. For serious. If you want to keep what’s inside the toilet inside the toilet, a brief run-through is vital if a house chooses to host one of these lovably wide-eyed long-term tourists.

Sublease with caution.

Daily Nexus County Co-Editor Drew Mackie lives in a cardboard box. He currently has room to rent.