Advice on Dealing With Your Landlord

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  • If you can build a good relationship with your landlord then s/he will probably allow a lot of flexibility with your lease. S/he can cut you breaks on late rent and other terms in the agreement. But, you cannot expect this kind of treatment from your landlord if you are rude or demanding. Likewise, if s/he ignores your needs it will be harder for you to treat the landlord with respect. Both you and your landlord must work to make your relationship easier. Try to keep up your end of the relationship.

  • The landlord-tenant relationship is automatically filled with tension. It is important to try to minimize that tension whenever possible. This will make the entire renting experience easier for you.

  • COMMUNICATION is the most important component to a landlord-tenant relationship. It is very easy to jump to conclusions about your landlord's intentions and to make false assumptions when a problem arises. Try to keep in contact with your landlord so that you always know what is really going on. This will also make it easier to talk to your landlord about financial burdens and other problems that you might run into as a tenant.

  • Most of the time the landlord has the upper hand in a tenant-landlord relationship. Tenants often feel powerless against landlords. It is important for you to know your rights so you can prevent your landlord from treating you unfairly.

  • Sometimes a landlord will have good intentions, but s/he does not communicate them very well. This might be more likely to happen if you are constantly nagging your landlord about the smallest of repairs. Try not to peg your landlord as an enemy immediately, and be fair with requests.

  • Many landlords do not own the property outright that you are renting; they are still paying mortgages. If you do not pay rent on time or do not pay your full rent, you can cause a lot of financial stress for your landlord. This does not mean that you should never ask for a break on the rent! You just need to TALK to your landlord and find out what is happening with their financial situations as well.

  • Sometimes a good landlord must deal with a difficult tenant - e.g. s/he must evict a tenant or his/her property is severely damaged because of a tenant. In this situation the landlord is likely to be harsher to future tenants. S/he might not be flexible with the lease or might raise the rent. Sometimes apartments are damaged so badly that the security deposit does not cover the cost. Such situations cause landlords to be distrustful of tenants. Try to take the landlord's point-of-view into consideration when you rent an apartment. Try to consider how your actions will affect future renters.

  • If you are genuinely unsatisfied with your landlord, you can always ask him/her in a respectful manner to allow you to not pay full rent during the inconvenience.

  • Try to distinguish between an extreme situation and one that is no big deal. You cannot expect your landlord to fix every crack in the wall. You must prioritize what really NEEDS to be fixed.

  • If you get frustrated because your landlord is ignoring your requests to make repairs, you might want to call a Code Inspector to take action against your landlord. However, keep in mind that Code Enforcement should be used as an ABSOLUTE LAST RESORT. Calling a Code Inspector on your landlord is like waging war. You also need to notify your landlord BEFORE you take such action. After you call a Code Inspector, your landlord is probably going to be unwilling to cut you any slack on your rent or the lease. It may be a necessary action to take against some landlords.

  • If you are having major difficulties with your landlord, you should record everything that happens in writing. This doesn't have to be formal; it could just be a personal journal. You should also communicate formally with the landlord in writing (instead of just on the phone) and keep a copy of everything you send. If you end up going to court against your landlord, these records will help validate your side of the story.

  • Sometimes landlords are horrible. When you feel that you have a difficult landlord, try to weigh the situation to figure out how bad the landlord actually is. Do not jump to unfair conclusions. Be respectful and try to keep the relationship with your landlord healthy, but also be aware that there are some evil landlords out there.

  • If you get into a dispute with one of your roommates, try NOT to bring the landlord into it. It should be your responsibility to get all of the rent paid even if one of your roommates is being difficult. If one of you moves out, it is your responsibility to deal with it. The landlord's concern is simply to get the rent paid. If you want a choice about who you live with, you should keep control over your situation and do not bring the landlord into it.

  • There are 3 different KINDS OF LANDLORDS:

    1. Real Estate Holding Company - usually a large business that owns a lot of property. They often employ management companies to make repairs. In this situation, you would send your rent money to an owner but call another place when you need a repair made. It might be more difficult to deal with problems that arise between you and this kind of landlord (especially if the company has a reputation for being problematic). It might also be easier to deal with problems because the company must worry about keeping a good reputation. You can never be sure what you are getting unless you ask other tenants that have rented from the same company.

    2. Smaller Company - a smaller version of the company described above. The difference is that the smaller company might be owned and run by one family or one small group of people. This family might own several houses instead of large amounts of property. Just like the above company, the smaller company might be easier or more difficult to deal with when a problem arises. You can never be sure what you are getting unless you ask other tenants who have rented from the company.

    3. Individual Landlords - individuals that own one or more apartments. The person usually makes repairs on his/her own. With individual landlords it is most important to create a healthy landlord-tenant relationship. The owner often wants the tenant to be happy; but s/he could also not care about the tenant at all. You can never be sure what you are getting unless you ask current tenants about the landlord.

Reviewed August 2009