Are you looking for a new place to live? With real estate prices hitting all-time highs, the rental market has also heated up. Because rentals are in short supply, property owners and managers are looking for solid tenants, long-term leases, and premium rents.
If you're lucky enough to find a home and secure a lease in today's competitive market, you'll want to keep a good relationship with the property owner or manager. It will make your time in your rental more pleasant and help you maintain a good rental history. When the time comes to renew your lease, you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate favorable terms.
Unlike the age-old stereotype, staying on good terms with a property owner or manager doesn't need to be complicated.
Follow these 7 common-sense tips to be any property owner's dream tenant.
- Read the lease. A lease is a binding legal contract that creates a formal relationship between you and the landlord for the length of the agreement. Before you rent any property, spend time reading the lease agreement and be sure you understand the contract. If you encounter anything you don't understand, ask questions and get answers before signing it.
- Ask permission, not forgiveness. Want to get a pet? Paint your living room? Wait! Don't assume anything. When renting, it's essential to get permission before you make any changes to the home. If the owner grants an exception or gives you permission for something not in the original lease, obtain the owner's written authorization and signature, and keep it on file. If you get this on paper, take a picture with your phone. If any questions come up later, you might need the documentation again.
- Report maintenance issues promptly. Whether it's a leaky faucet, your AC’s not working, or something else that needs repair, submit a maintenance request to the owner or manager in writing as soon as possible. Seemingly insignificant problems can become major issues over time, and your lease may state you’re not allowed to use your own repair person. Keep in mind that you might be responsible for minor maintenance such as a lightbulb, filter, or battery replacement. Check your lease agreement to know for sure.
- Be a good neighbor. Be respectful and courteous to those who live around you. Adhere to any noise regulations included in your lease agreement. Property owners and managers don't like mediating arguments between tenants, and most disputes can be resolved without involving them. If you have concerns with a neighbor, address the problem directly. Work to create an environment where both parties can live peacefully.
- Respect the property as your own. As a renter, you have a duty to keep things in good condition. Inside and outside, make sure the property is clean, sanitary, and orderly.
- Pay your rent on time. Good tenants pay their rents on or before their due date every month. Some people mistakenly believe they have a "grace" period on rent because many leases do not charge a late fee until three to five days after the due date. Even if you don't incur a late fee, you are delinquent on payment when your rent is not paid on the date specified in your agreement. When you ask for a future reference, a property owner or manager could report that you were late on your lease, causing issues when you try to rent again.
- Don’t burn bridges. When your lease is coming to an end, be sure to give the landlord advance notice of your intention to move out per your lease agreement. Make sure you vacate the property on time and leave it clean and in good condition. Arrange a walk-through inspection on the day you move out to ensure there aren't any issues.
Following these seven tips will help you steer clear of any potential issues and maintain a solid professional relationship with the landlord.