How to get Your Landlord to Treat You Better

2013-10-26

How to get Your Landlord to Treat You Better

Here’s a surprise: the better you treat the landlord, the better most of them will treat you!

A landlord fixing a tenant's sink.OK, so let’s get one fact out of the way: there are slumlords out there who will treat you like crap no matter how excellent you are to them.  But given that your landlord is a human being with a conscience, the best way to get your landlord to treat you better is to build a relationship with them — one that’s based on more than just “This is broken, please fix it.”

Read your lease
It starts, like most things involving your landlord start, with the legalese.  You have to actually sit down and read the lease.  Read it in detail.  Understand it. Get a copy for yourself and go over it with a red pen.  Ask your landlord about any parts of it that you don’t understand.  If you want to do anything that might affect the building your renting — and that includes everything from renovating the kitchen to taking up smoking to getting a dachshund — check the lease, and if it says anything whatsoever about the subject, ask the landlord.  Oddly, having the landlord say ‘no’ and then actually not doing it is one of the best things that can happen to your relationship with the landlord — it shows them that you respect their ownership of the property, which goes a long way.

Get written permission
If there is something that your landlord agrees to let you get away with, ask for the permission in writing.  It’s a curious phenomenon — landlords respect you when you listen to them saying ‘no’, but they also respect you when you show them that you’re taking them seriously when they say ‘yes’, as well.  It’s not about saving your butt in the future (though it might help do that as well) — it’s about showing your landlord that you’re taking your tenancy seriously.

Take care of yourself
If another tenant is giving you trouble, don’t be passive-aggressive about it: talk to them and figure out what their deal is.  Try to resolve it yourself — then communicate to the landlord about what happened, what you did about, and whether you think it will be a problem in the future.  If you present yourself as a mature, responsible individual who is informing them because you want them to be aware rather than because you want them to fix it for you, you’ll go a long way toward developing their image of you.  Similarly, don’t submit a maintenance request for a $3 light bulb or a smoke detector battery. If you have the tools and expertise to handle a job, you should.  You’re renting a home, not a hotel room!  Also, it’s just like leasing a car — besides putting gas in it, you’ve got to replace anything YOU break or wear out: tires, windshields, brakes, etc.

Have respect.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, this whole thing is all about respect.  If you respect the property you’re renting, you won’t mistreat it and anger the landlord.  If you respect the landlord, you’ll avoid getting in trouble — but you’ll also show the landlord that you’re someone who should be taken seriously.  If you respect your neighbors, you’ll avoid silly problems.  If you respect yourself, you’ll keep your rental history clean and your rent paid on time.  If you can do all of that, you’re almost guaranteed to have a great relationship with your landlord — and what better way to make sure your landlord treats you well?

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