The landlord-tenant relationship can make or break your standard of living. It’s a relationship you will be investing in for at least a year — if not years — of your life, so it deserves some serious consideration.
Want a good reference for your next dream rental? Hope to score rent at a fixed lower rate? Considering a new pet that’s not allowed under your current contract? Build a great relationship with your landlord and they’ll be more responsive to your needs.
Here are 10 ways you can get on your landlord’s good side.
1. Pay rent on time
This isn’t one of those pesky contract details that’s annoying for you to follow — your landlord has bills to pay and a family to support, too. Never force your landlord to hound you for the rent check. Geoffrey Jones, real estate investor and CEO of Investorwize.com, recommends letting your landlord know in advance if your rent is going to be late: “Doing this builds trust and rapport, and your landlord can be prepared to pay his mortgage knowing you’ll be late,” he says.
2. Make contracts personal
Of course you’ll want to use a standard agreement as the base of your contract, but Elura Nanos, practicing attorney of EluraNanos.com, recommends making your contract personal: it’s more effective — and more memorable. “Most landlord-tenant disputes come about when parties disagree on what the property used to look like and about what responsibilities belong to the tenant vs. the landlord,” she says. “A clear list, written by the parties themselves, is often far more useful than a long-form lease.”
3. DIY the minor stuff
One of the biggest headaches for renters is repair problems. Appliances break, carpets get dirty, paint peels — regular maintenance is a part of upkeep. But there’s no need to call the landlord every time a lightbulb burns out or the smoke detector battery dies. Take care of minor issues on your own and save calls to the landlord for bigger things you can’t fix. Expect the landlord to take action immediately only if the repair is an emergency, like the plumbing backs up or the heat stops working.
4. Be reasonable with demands
Though your wood paneling is woefully outdated, don’t demand new walls — that’s a cosmetic change that will cost the landlord thousands of dollars. Never expect unreasonable upgrades from your landlord, and they’ll consider you a reasonable person. If you really need to brighten up your living space with your personal aesthetic, there are many temporary ways to decorate your rental and make it feel like home.
5. Play nice
No duh, right? But kindness is king, especially in a service industry like rentals. If your landlord likes you, you won’t be branded as “The Beast in 2D.” Especially remember this when you’re heated over something. It’s easy to explode at the landlord or maintenance technician over botched repairs, but be nice to the people who hold the power to fix your rental. Some landlords even keep a file on dramatic or problematic tenants — and you want to do everything in your power to avoid a nasty paper trail, so don’t be argumentative.
6. Notice the little things
Show you care about the building you live in. When you send in your rent check, write a little note on the envelope to share a compliment about recent upgrades. Saying something as simple as “Love the new paint in the hall!” or “The Christmas decorations you put up are beautiful!” can go a long way with a landlord. Additionally, pen a brief thank you anytime your landlord helps you out. It doesn’t have to be much: “I appreciate the quick turnaround on the water leak” or “Thanks for handling the mail mix-up!” will make them feel appreciated and appreciative.
7. Remember them on holidays
Send your landlord a small gift or treats on holidays. This sentiment is remembered and appreciated. If you go the extra mile for your landlord, you’ll be on their “nice” list when you make a request or want to negotiate later.
8. Keep it clean
Always keep any common or visible areas of your rental — your parking spot, storage locker, balcony, and front stoop, for example — clean and clutter free. Big bonus points if you decorate. This shows you respect and enjoy your landlord’s property. When you know the landlord is coming by, clean up. Sure, your private domain is your business, but if your landlord sees a pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen, they’re going to give you major side eye when you complain about ants later.
9. Be a respectful neighbor
No landlord wants to field late-night calls from a tenant complaining that your party is getting too loud. Even worse — if your landlord is onsite, they know you are the one piling trash bags outside the back door. Be the kind of courteous neighbor you would want to live next to. And when you’ve got your own complaint about a neighbor, understand your landlord’s limits. When your landlord tells you “I can’t do anything about it,” they likely mean it. They can’t fault someone for strong cooking smells or tell them to stop walking around their kitchen in the middle of the night.
10. Report problems ASAP
The last thing a landlord wants to hear is that a lingering problem they were unaware of has caused major damage to their property. Small problems could turn into catastrophic and expensive repairs. Notice the AC is leaking in the basement? Call now, because ignoring it could warp the wood floors and cause mold.
Honest tenants have healthy relationships with their landlords. Become a beloved tenant and your needs will be on the top of your landlord’s priority list.
Written by Clair Jones
Clair Jones is a journalist, marketer and tech junkie who loves to write about technology business trends, digital commerce, career tips and office politics from the perspective of a millennial female. Learn more