While you might plan to own your own home one day, renting is not without its advantages. Really, tenants have it made in many ways.
For example, if your rent is significantly lower than your mortgage payment would be, you can wind up with a significant amount of leftover cash each month—funds that can be used for countless other things, including investing, retirement, travel, or as the down payment on your future home.
Renting can also make it easier to relocate if you want to move to a bigger place or need to move for a job opportunity (and if you do score a new job, Bellhops would love to send a team out to hi-five you and move all your stuff!). Also, if something in your apartment breaks, your landlord—and not you—has to fix it.
You’ll be interacting with your landlord regarding other things, too, so it’s important that the two of you get along for as long as you’re a tenant. The trick for tenants is starting off (and staying) on the good foot with him or her.
Here are some tips:
- Be friendly.
Generally speaking, landlords have a reputation for being cheap or mean—or both. In reality, however, most landlords are both nice and professional. If you treat them with respect, they’ll return the favor.
Get to know your landlord. For instance, if you pass him or her in the hallway, be sure to say hello. Showing kindness to your landlord will build trust between the two of you, and that positive rapport can come in handy should a problem arise or if you need quick maintenance help.
- Honor your lease.
Honesty is a huge part of building trust between tenants and landlords. Your lease clearly outlines what is—and isn’t—allowed in your new place. You agreed to those terms when you signed the lease, so stick to them.
For example, if smoking isn’t allowed in your home don’t smoke or allow anyone else smoke. If pets require a security deposit, pay it. Trying to get around the rules can come back to bite you when you need help with something or when it’s time for your landlord to renew your lease—if he or she doesn’t kick you out before then.
- Pay your rent on time.
Not only can late rent payments cost you money in late fees and damage your credit, they can also damage your relationship with your landlord. Even worse, if you pay late often enough, he or she will likely mention it when someone calls for a reference in the future.
Most landlords will give tenants a 2- or 5-day grace period to pay rent. Pay it during that window or earlier, if you can. Set up a calendar reminder on your phone or sign up for automatic online payments if your landlord offers them. If you can’t pay on time, inform your landlord immediately, and do whatever you can to prevent it from happening again.
- Request repairs immediately.
You don’t own your new place. If a pipe bursts or an appliance breaks, it’s not your job to fix it. It’s your landlord’s. While some things don’t need to be fixed right away, others need to be addressed immediately—not just because they make things inconvenient for you, but because they could lead to bigger, more costly issues for the property owner.
If something goes wrong, tell your landlord about it immediately. Chances are, they will respond promptly. If they don’t, it might be because they’re dealing with other jobs elsewhere or problems in other units that need to be addressed before yours. Keep subsequent reminders/requests polite and keep a record of how and when you’ve reached out for help. If the landlord fails to fix the problem properly—or regularly responds slowly and/or poorly—when you report problems, it might be time to find another place to live.
Note: While you have responsibilities as a renter, you also have rights. Your landlord needs to honor your lease as much as you do, and there are laws in place to protect you from discrimination, negligence, and other issues that can negatively affect you as a tenant. Know the tenant rights and laws that apply to renters in your city and state so you can prepared should anything go wrong.
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