|Landlord/Tenant Relations: Making a Good Impression
Source: Deb Trzcinski
A landlord's nightmare voicemail: "Just calling to let you know that rent will be late again this month ... oh, and we've sopped up almost all the water from the busted waterbed ... uh, did I mention the slight burn spot on the kitchen ceiling? Don't worry, the fireman said it wasn't so bad. One more thing…"
Renters like this make landlords choosy (if not actually terrified). There's value in being a responsible tenant. In addition to being a good representative for the armed services, your future rental prospects will broaden as you establish a history of positive references. You can become a tenant that sweet dreams are made of.
Make an indelible first impression to land a desired rental.
In your initial contact, express your intentions. Find out when the property will be available and what is required for a deposit. As you ask questions, the prospective landlord will see that you're a good communicator and that you don't operate on assumptions. Be confident in your qualifications as one who can take good care of their property and who will be timely with rent payments.
On your first visit:
- Dress nicely.
- If you must take your children with you, don't allow them to roam free. (Make sure they're fed and have gone to the bathroom beforehand.)
- Don't take the family pet.
- Be cautious — don't impulsively sign a lease.
- Be respectful of those living in the home.
If the property is perfect but slightly out of your price range, don't be afraid to negotiate. Maybe you could do lawn, maintenance, or cleaning tasks that would bring the rent down and into your budget.
Understand the Lease
A lease isn't just a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo. It can be your saving grace or your pitfall, depending on what you agree to by signing your name. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what is included in the lease, such as:
- Terms of cleaning the premises before you move out
- Conditions for return of your deposits
- Due dates and grace periods for rent payments
- The number and/or ages of children permitted
- The inclusion of a military clause that lets you terminate a lease or rental agreement and move out without penalty upon receipt of official orders.
Treat It Like Your Own
Care for the rental as though you own it. This will not only make your time more enjoyable, but will delight your landlord and neighbors as well. Be creative with a bit of inexpensive décor, but always get approval for things such as window treatments, lawn or garden additions, and wall painting.
Inevitably, something will break, so:
- Accept responsibility for damage that is your fault, and offer to pay for it.
- Offer to do minor repairs if the landlord supplies materials.
- If possible, contact the landlord immediately regarding damage.
- Ask what to do about emergency repairs after hours.
- Get renter's insurance.
If you expect to seek a rental in the future, put together a portfolio:
- References from previous landlords and neighbors
- Photos of improvements you've made to previous rentals
- A brief description of abilities you have that could be of benefit, such as decorating or gardening.