Nov 23 2010

How to Keep Your Landlord Happy

Is a happy tenant more important or is a happy landlord more important?

Well, your answer probably depends on whether you rent your home or own your home. But, most would agree that a great tenant-landlord relationship is mutually beneficial while a bad one could mean hell.

Although I do not yet own my own home, I do play a small managerial role when it comes to dealing with the tenants in my parents’ house. Having been on both sides of the spectrum, I can say that it isn’t easy for either side.

As I currently play a partial landlord role, the responsibility of dealing with less-than-perfect tenants becomes an occasional inconvenience. That’s why landlords appreciate the tenant who gives them no trouble – what seems to be one of the rarest type of people around. It’s difficult to understand how much of a hassle it can be until one is put in this position.

What Makes the Landlord Smile

Landlords just want to collect your rent with as little trouble and frustration as possible. Yes, it feels like there are just way too many rules. But, you are living on someone else’s property, which will have rules in place to protect it. These are the things you should be doing no matter where you are living.

  • Pay your rent on time. Money is #1 here. This is the only reason any property owner would rent out their home. Landlords have the right to impose a late fee!
  • Keep a low noise level. Not only does noise bother everyone else in the building, it could keep the neighbors up as well. I don’t want to have to wake up at 2AM to tell you to be quiet as much as you don’t want to see me ruin your party.
  • Keep it tidy. Nobody wants to come home to mold-riddled walls, roach-infested cabinets, and a scummy bathroom. Unsanitary conditions can spread and affect the health of everyone in the building.
  • Don’t break anything that isn’t yours. As a tenant, it is your responsibility to take care of anything that was there when you moved in. Sure, the security deposit might cover some of the costs of the damage but landlords don’t want to deal with it if they don’t have to.
  • Proper garbage disposal. Recycle. Put the right type of garbage in the right garbage container. No spills please!
  • Good communication. The landlord may not know everything that is going on so it is up to you to let them know if you have questions or concerns. It’s nice to know that tenants are looking out for the residence as much as the landlords do.

Landlords Aren’t All Mean

It is also of great interest for tenants to make their landlords happy because some landlords are very nice people. If you are a great tenant, they are more inclined to be a great landlord as well and return the favor. In the long run, it could save money and a bunch of heartache.

  • Wards off rent increases. Something that many tenants dread is the annual rent increase. How much the landlord likes you can drastically affect the decision of a rent increase. The more you piss off a landlord, the higher your rent increase. If you were an excellent tenant, I would consider not raising you rent at all.
  • Quicker fixes to problems. You pay to live in place with acceptable living conditions. It is the landlord’s legal duty to maintain a habitable environment. Some landlords are quick to repair problems with the rental property and some just don’t give a crap. Establish that guilty conscience in a landlord if they don’t fix your problems immediately because you are such an awesome tenant.
  • Perks here and there. Sometimes, you might need little favors from the landlord. If you are not home to receive a package, ask the landlord. If you are going on vacation and need someone to check up on pets and belongings, ask the landlord.

The Best Tenants We’ve Had Yet

Two female NYU college students occupied an apartment on the second floor. They were nice, soft-spoken ladies who took care of their living areas. They were quiet and, even with a few guests over, they kept the noise down. And, most importantly of all, they were never late with the rent payments.

My parents never raised their rent. During the summer, they happened to not have an air conditioner. We just so happened to have an extra one so we lent it to them and helped them set it up. From time to time, my mom would offer them some home-cooked Chinese food. One of the tenants worked at a frozen yogurt shop and would bring back some for us.

Sadly, they left after graduation…

To other landlords out there: share some stories of your superb tenants. As a landlord what makes you smile? Renters, how’s your relationship with your landlords?

(Photo credit: ellie)

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4 Comments on this post


  1. Carnival of Personal Finance #285 – Google Search Money Stories Edition | Realm of Prosperity wrote:

    [...] Simon from Realm of Prosperity presents How to Keep Your Landlord Happy. [...]

    November 29th, 2010 at 8:37 am
  1. Financial Samurai said:

    Do you think women or men make better tenants?

    December 4th, 2010 at 11:57 pm
  2. Simon Zhen said:

    Honestly, I feel that women make better tenants.

    I know this debate hovers along the boundaries of discrimination but I believe that the majority of women, who are set out to live on their own, have developed a greater sense of responsibility and independence.

    From my past experiences, the female tenants have been tidier in key areas such as the bathroom and the kitchen. Also, they aren’t typically hosts of gatherings because guys usually host them (at their bachelor pads!), so noise levels don’t get out of hand.

    In the end, it’s the people who have that caretaker instinct.

    December 5th, 2010 at 12:15 am
  3. Jake Stichler said:

    I was a horrible tenant, but to my credit the place was a dump when I moved in. That counts for something, right? Had rent problems, cats were terrible (messes and managing to break a cupboard door off the hinges [it was only on one hinge to begin with]), but other than that I was pretty good. I think.

    December 5th, 2010 at 12:50 am


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