Post from MilitaryByOwner
Landlords are an inevitable part of renting. We choose the property we want to rent, but we don’t get to choose the landlord that comes with it. Sometimes, we’re lucky enough to have a landlord we really jive with. Other times, we’re far less fortunate.
For example, we felt that one of our landlords didn’t communicate the best. We sent a message about our leaking water heater and, without letting us know anything ahead of time, he sent over a repair team to fix it. So when three men came to the door and I was home alone, I wasn’t thrilled.
When it was time for them to go, they asked for payment. But when I tried to get in touch with my landlord, he was unreachable--for hours. Thankfully, when I explained the situation to the repairmen, they left planning to receive payment at a later time.
We talked to our landlord and thanked him for getting the leak fixed so quickly, explaining that it might be best to schedule with us in the future. He apologized for not considering our schedules first, paid for the repair, and let us schedule the follow-up appointment.
Regardless of how well you get along with your landlord, you have an obligation to work with them when you sign the rental agreement. Still, there are some ways to help smooth things over when dealing with a difficult landlord.
1) Pay your bill. Paying your bill on time is the single most important thing you can do as a tenant. Even if your landlord is outright difficult, this one act will hopefully build a little trust in your relationship.
2) Be a good tenant. Being the best tenant your landlord has ever seen will make it hard for even the most nitpicky landlord to find anything to criticize. But this means paying your rent on time, keeping the property clean, calling your landlord only when necessary, and being respectful of the property.
3) Know your rights. To protect against the pushy landlord, learn your rights. Familiarize yourself with the state laws designed to defend tenants. For example, there are laws established to regulate the amount of money your landlord can require as a security deposit. There are also laws to protect your maintenance requests, privacy, and anti-discrimination. (A great resource to learn landlord/tenant state laws is NOLO.com.)
4) Pick your battles. If your landlord is chronically unresponsive, don’t continue to communicate every minor repair that needs fixed. Since they’re already uninterested, the more they hear from you, the more they will likely tune you out. Instead, it’s best that you choose your issues of highest priority to fight over. They are required, by law, to keep the property in livable condition. But what that means to you may differ from what that means to your landlord. So, if you have to choose, choose the repairs that no one could argue make the home livable.
5) Document everything. Keep your own copy of the signed lease so that you have the rental contract to refer to if needed.
If your landlord is the type to ignore issues with the property, put your maintenance requests in writing and keep copies of them; this way, you have proof of your requests if further actions are necessary.
6) Communicate clearly. If your landlord is chatty or tends to be forgetful, perhaps the best way to communicate with them isn’t over the phone. Instead, send an email or if they’re really informal, a text. That way, there is record of your conversation, and you can point back to it if needed.
Lastly, if these tips aren’t enough, it might be time to decide if it’s time to move on when the lease is up. Ask yourself, “Do the benefits of living in this property outweigh the difficulties?”