As a counterpart to yesterday's 5 Ways To Be A Great Landlord , it is only fair that I do 5 Ways To Be A Great Tenant. I've just moved into someone else's home, so I hope that I can follow these rules. Just like yesterday, these are not legal or ethical things, but smaller points of consideration that will make the business relationship easier.
1. Please don't call me (or a repairman) for truly small stuff. Your landlord knows you can change a battery in a garage door opener, and you'd do it yourself if it were your house. Same for light bulbs. And if you are handy, and want to do other small repairs, awesome! Please tell your landlord, though, so he or she can appreciate your work and also so they know the back story in the future. Who knows, they might even send you some of their awesome brownies.
2. On the other hand, don't delay in calling for stuff that really needs to be fixed. First of all, your landlord want you to be happy in your house. Second, they should have an interest in keeping their house in good shape. If it isn't urgent, remember that it might not get fixed today. Also, in my opinion, it is the tenant's responsibility to be present when work is happening.
3. Be a good neighbor. Keep your sidewalks shoveled, bring your trash cans in on time, and don't blare loud music at inappropriate hours. Not only will your neighbors like you more, but your landlord will, too.
4. Try to pay your rent on time, and let the landlord know as soon as possible if there is going to be a problem. If you are able, set up an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). It is easier for you, and gives the landlord some clear sense of when they will be paid. In my opinion, as a landlord, I'm more annoyed by not telling me about delays than I am about the delays itself. However, your landlord's financial condition may vary. Keep in mind that they have bills for your house, whether it is a mortgage, or utilities, or just the property tax bill.
5. Communicate with them when your lease comes to an end. Waiting on orders, or looking for a new house to buy? Tell them, and see what sort of options you can work out. If you've been a good tenant, they are likely to go month-to-month for you. 60 days notice is even better.
Obviously, this list isn't comprehensive. There's much more to being a good tenant, but I think that these five things are the little extras that can push you over the edge from being a good tenant to a great tenant.