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Are you a good tenant?
What landlords want in a renter
Landlords typically check potential renters for a number of things such as a good credit score and steady income, but there’s much more to being a great tenant than that. Landlords prefer tenants that are dependable, are willing to maintain the property as if it is their own, treat fellow tenants with respect and are honest and transparent with the landlord at all times. If you want to stay out of trouble with your landlord and get a good reference for your next place, follow these guidelines.
14 Ways to become a better renter
1. Pay your rent on time
This one may seem obvious, but consistently paying your rent on time is the single biggest thing you can do to prove that you’re a great tenant. Just like you have bills every month, your landlord does, too. You have rent and they typically have a mortgage to pay. If your rent is late, your landlord’s mortgage payment may be delayed or cause more issues and headaches for them. Many landlords nowadays offer the ability to set up automatic payments to make this easier for you both, and some even offer a slight discount if you do so!
2. Treat the property like your own
Some tenants may have the mindset that this isn’t really their property, and the way they treat it reflects that. Landlords typically take a security deposit to cover some of these issues, but remember you can get that money back if you treat the property right and prevent any excessive damage from occurring during your occupancy.
3. Keep your apartment clean
The best renters will not only treat the property as their own and avoid damage, but they’ll also keep it clean and sanitary as best they can. Just like you don’t want to live in a dirty place, the landlord doesn’t want their properties to be unsanitary and attract pests.
4. Communicate immediately if a maintenance issue comes up or something is damaged
If an issue does pop up, like a burst pipe or a faulty appliance, let the landlord know immediately. This is best for the landlord and for you, as the issue can be fixed right away. A small leak can lead to a big headache for the landlord, so be sure to let them know right away if anything comes up.
5. Keep your job and a reliable income
Landlords need to have confidence that you’ll be able to pay rent on a regular basis. They have bills due every month, too, and they depend on your rent payments to keep everything running smoothly. Having steady, predictable income goes a long way to putting the landlord’s mind at ease and ensures that you’ll be able to pay rent consistently.
6. Don’t be high-maintenance or hassle the landlord about tiny problems
Major maintenance issues typically fall on the landlord and you should tell them about such matters right away. But this doesn’t mean you should hassle them constantly about every little thing that comes up. Simple issues like changing air filters or replacing a light bulb that’s burned out are things that can be addressed by the tenant and shouldn’t need the landlord’s attention.
A good attitude goes a long way. “We look for tenants that are easy to work with and communicate well with us and our staff,” Pereira says. “If a tenant is disrespectful during a walkthrough or during the screening process, they likely won’t be an ideal fit for us.”
— Filipe M. Pereira, Managing Director, Connecticut Realty & Property Management
7. Don’t hide roommates
Disclose everyone that’s living with you. Don’t try to have a roommate without notifying the landlord and getting that person approved and added to the lease. Everyone over 18 living on the property needs to sign the lease, and sneaking in a roommate will usually violate the original lease you signed.
8. Get permission before you bring in a pet
Many landlords have a pet policy that specifies the types, breeds and number of pets allowed which you must follow. If you decide that you want to get a pet after moving in, just be sure to discuss it with your landlord first. There may be an initial deposit or a slight increase in monthly rent that you should be aware of, and the landlord should be aware of the animals living on their property as well.
9. Have renters insurance
Many landlords require you to purchase renters insurance within the first month of residency. This insurance will protect both the tenant and the landlord if there are any issues that arise, and it’s incredibly affordable. The average cost of renters insurance in the US is only $15 a month!
10. Follow the lease
A lease is a legally binding document that protects both the landlord and the tenant from any illegal activities occurring on the property. Following the terms of the lease is very important, as a breach of the terms can be grounds for eviction and cause a headache for all involved.
11. Renew the lease
Landlords love it when good tenants renew the lease and intend on living in their rental for a long time. Switching tenants is difficult, and replacing a great tenant is even harder. If you’re happy with the rental and really enjoy living there, let the landlord know by renewing your lease!
12. Leave the property in the same condition you found it
If you do decide to move out, be sure that you leave the property in the same condition it was in when you moved in. Make sure everything is clean and undamaged and inform the landlord if there are any issues. Not only will this allow for the landlord to have an easier transition to the next tenant, but it also gives you the best chance at getting your security deposit back. It’s a win-win!
13. Be honest
Honesty isn’t just a quality it’s nice to have in order to be a good tenant, but it’s one that should be evident in all aspects of life. Always be honest with the landlord about everything: any issues that come up, if you want to get a pet or a roommate, and of your intentions about renewing the lease or moving out. As we all heard when we were kids, honesty is the best policy!
14. Be nice
Lastly, and this one is pretty simple, just be nice! Be kind to other tenants as well as the landlord, treating everyone with respect. This goes hand-in-hand with honesty as traits that should extend far beyond the tenant-landlord relationship.
Be the best tenant you can be
Many of these tips for being a great tenant may seem like common sense, and that’s because they are! It’s easy to be a great tenant, and having a good relationship with your landlord will go a long way toward making your time living there better for everyone involved. In short, you really just need to pay your rent on time, be honest and transparent with the landlord, notify them of any issues, and treat everyone (and everything) with respect and kindness!
Good behavior will most often yield good results, but sometimes you get matched with a lousy landlord. In such cases where the good behavior isn’t returned, make sure to know the renter rights for your location. Check out Roost’s Renter Rights by State to make sure you are treated fairly and your landlord is holding up his end of the legal responsibilities.
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