How to Build a Strong Landlord/Tenant Relationship
The task of finding a place to rent could be more than a little daunting. There are so many things to consider! From location, to price point to finding a place that fulfills your and your family’s needs, it can get complicated pretty quickly.
When you (finally!) find that ideal place, it is imperative to make sure that all things proceed smoothly. And I’m not referring to the not so cool part of moving in (yikes!). I’m referring to forging and maintaining the best possible relationship with your new landlord. Keep in mind, the better your relationship is, the better chances for a long-lasting, painless and uncomplicated your time at that particular place will be.
Here are some tips to make your rental agreement work:
1. Pay on time. Always.
Life happens. Jobs are lost, sickness strikes or other unexpected things come up. However, you signed a contract, agreeing to pay a certain amount per month and you should always do your best to keep your end of the deal. The best way to ensure that you can continue to pay on time is to:
- Make sure you can actually afford the monthly payment. It can be extremely easy to fall in love with a place because it has all we were looking for, but can you really afford it? On a monthly basis? The ideal rent payment should never exceed 25% of your take home pay.
The danger of going over that is that you’re then responsible for a rather large amount of cash for your shelter alone, not counting utilities, groceries, gas and other expenses. Make sure you calculate all those expenses up front, before agreeing to a rent payment that you can hardly afford.
- Have some back up/sinking fund for the unexpected. That way, when things go crazy, you can always go dip into that fund until things calm down and get back to normal. Your home is your shelter. Protect it.
2. Communicate with your landlord openly and often.
Keeping the communication channels open is key. After all, the landlord is the OWNER of your dwellings. Find out which is their preferred form of communication and use it. Be respectful of this though. If you’re communicating via text message or phone call, then do everything you can to keep it at a respectful hour.
Unless there’s is a huge, unavoidable emergency, do not call at odd hours. Trust me, if you wake up your landlord at 11pm to tell him/her that the bathroom sink is clogged, they won’t be happy! There’s nothing urgent about a clogged bathroom sink; it can certainly wait until the morning.
3. Keep the rental in top notch condition.
I get that life gets busy. We have jobs, a family and other engagements that take up most of our time. However, we must always take care of our home, maybe even more so when we don’t actually own the home.
Be mindful of things like appliances, septic tank, toilets, sinks etc. Just been careful what we flush down the toilet, how we dispose of grease from cooking or even how big a load we put into the dishwasher/washing machine/dryer could make a big impact on the condition of said facilities.
Remember, you don’t own these things. And even though the contract might state that the landlord will take care of any or all of them, it is more considerate to take care of them properly and not create more unnecessary expenses.
4. Take care of the property.
Nothing could be more of a turn off for a landlord than to stop by or drive by his/her property and find it has gone to seed. And not only the inside; the outside, the curb appeal of a property should be taken care of. Mow the lawn, keep the garbage in the garbage bins, and do not turn it into a junk yard. Your landlord will appreciate it.
If you rent an apartment, chances are you are not in charge of mowing the lawn, etc. However, you can contribute to the general upkeep by not throwing garbage on the ground, picking up your dog’s poop, and keeping your outside areas (think porch, balcony, patio) in order, and clean of debris.
5. Ask before you make long-lasting decisions.
You must remember that you do not own the property. This is especially important when you wish to make any changes/improvements to the property. Do not paint, put nails on the walls, tore down walls, etc. without the landlord’s consent. And if those instances are covered in the contract, then respect the agreement.
This also applies for pets. Some landlords are adamant on their pet policy and most of the time, with good reason. Maybe the precious renter let his/her pet destroy the house. Or maybe they are afraid of the extra cost of replacing the carpet, chewed on cabinets or getting leftover pet waste odor when you move out.
Whatever the case might be, don’t put your shelter at risk by defiling the place. If you do not agree with the rental terms, then don’t agree to them in the first place. Move on and keep looking until you find the right place for you.
6. Build a good reputation in the neighborhood.
This might seem unimportant but it isn’t. Your neighbors will attest to your reputation though. Your landlord won’t like to hear that you have very loud, late night parties, or cause problems with your neighbors,or even worse, that there’s any suspicious activity at your home.
You do not need to build friendships, although that wouldn’t hurt obviously. What you should do is do your best to be respectful and caring for the community as a whole. Here are some ideas of how to build a good neighbor reputation:
- Do not block other people’s driveways.
- Do not toss garbage in their yards.
- Say good morning or good evening when you cross their paths.
- Be kind and considerate to all.
- Avoid loud music or parties during the late hours of the night.
- Lend a hand to a neighbor when needed.
- Offer a smile. A nice smile can go a long way.
A lot comes into play when it comes to a good landlord/tenant relationship. It is a two way street, where both parts must play by the rules to make it successful. Both have responsibilities and obligations. And while you certainly cannot control your landlord’s actions, you can do all in your power to keep your side of the bargain.
I don’t know of anyone who wishes to be moving constantly, least of all if the moves are triggered by a bad landlord/tenant relationship, by the constant raise of rent or by poor property management/upkeep.
While nothing can really guarantee that you’ll have a long and peaceful stay, you can ensure that you keep your side of the deal and maybe, hopefully, your landlord keeps his/hers as well.
Do you have any successful rental story to share with us? A not so good one? Share with us in the comments!