When it comes to maintaining a good tenant/landlord relationship, effort is a two-way street.
Finding a rental home isn’t the most glamorous endeavor. Locating the perfect place in an affordable Seattle neighborhood is a challenge, to say the least. That said, there are currently more U.S. renters than at any point since 1965, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau housing data. When it comes to maintaining a good tenant/landlord relationship, effort is a two-way street, and respecting your landlord’s perspective can significantly improve the process of settling in. Consider these points as you make yourself at home.
Pets are a pain. Yes, your pooch is the best dog in the world, but don’t be surprised if your landlord doesn’t share the same love and enthusiasm. Pets can pose significant risks to a rental home, including floor damage, lingering smells, noise complaints from the neighbors and additional gardening costs (thanks to tenants who don’t clean up after their pets). Allowing pets also can limit your landlord’s future tenant pool by eliminating candidates who suffer from severe animal allergies. Expect additional fees and screenings to cover these costs, and realize that your landlord’s caution has everything to do with protecting their investment. In the interest of goodwill, consider asking your previous landlord to vouch for your pet’s behavior and your commitment to cleanliness. While your efforts may not lead to a lower rent, it will ease your landlord’s mind and encourage a positive relationship.
Honesty is important. Accidents happen, and your landlord probably expects a certain amount of property damage, whether it’s a scratch on the wall or a broken appliance. Expectations aside, it’s important to bring up issues right away to avoid future problems and additional costs to your landlord. For example, suppose you accidentally stained the carpet and aren’t sure how to clean it correctly. Your landlord might prefer to hire a professional for $100 rather than rely on you to clean the stain, which could make things worse and lead to replacing the carpets completely … for 10 times the cost. Recognize the moments when you need to communicate and practice diligence. Your landlord is likely to appreciate the honesty.
Caution is appreciated. Your landlord might be understanding about property damage, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to avoid it. A few simple strategies can help you keep your rental in perfect condition:
- If you’re hanging art, use adhesive hooks rather than nails to protect the walls.
- Ask permission before painting a wall or trim to avoid conflict (and losing your security deposit).
- Don’t make any structural changes that might impact your landlord’s insurance liability.
Speaking of insurance, it’s a good idea to review your individual responsibilities as a renter to avoid costly confusion. In general, an owner is responsible for all costs related to the property, including home repairs, lawn care and pest control, but their duties don’t cover the personal property of their tenants in the case of an accident. For instance, if a fire damages the home, your landlord’s policy would cover all structural repairs, but your personal property isn’t a likely part of the reimbursement equation. Protect yourself by looking into renter’s insurance that will safeguard your things in cases of theft, fire and other incidents.
Landlords can be open to suggestions. Let’s say you hate the light fixtures in your rental, but you don’t want to invest your own money into replacing them. While it’s true that your landlord isn’t obligated to decorate the rental to suit your tastes, they might be open to making a change if it’s cost effective and well communicated. In fact, certain improvements can increase the value of a rental over time, a goal that the average owner is eager to achieve. If you’re itching for a change, a polite request isn’t out of the question.
Landlords are running a business. You and your landlord might be friendly bordering on friendship, but at the end of the day, they have a business to run. Late rent, unreported property damage and even unemployment can’t be overlooked, and it’s important to understand how your choices affect your landlord’s financial security. Consider your behavior from their perspective and treat your landlord with the same care you would treat a real friend. Mutual respect goes a long way.
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