You've just signed a lease, and you realise after the initial walkthrough that your new landlord might be more of a stickler than others you've had. Don't panic. Dealing with a difficult or overbearing landlord is manageable. Here's how to do it.
Whether you deal with the landlord directly or — a more common scenario — have to work through a real estate agent, hassles can arise. Here's what to look out for.
Be A Good Tenant
The simplest thing you can do is be a good tenant. Of course, this means paying your rent on time. It also means following any particular conditions in your lease, keeping your apartment clean, keeping any outside lawn area tidy, following rules about guests, and being quiet.
If you're at the start of your lease, it's a good idea to go over any questions you might have too. That includes even minor stuff such as asking about what type of nails you can use to hang pictures and what modifications you can make to the property. Every owner has things they care about more than others, so it's always a good idea to clear everything up from the start.
Communicate Your Needs Clearly
If you need something done in your apartment, and your landlord or agent isn't responsive, make sure you are clear about your request and why it matters. Landlords get all kinds of requests from tenants, and they might view some as trivial when it's actually important. A difficult landlord is probably going to view most of your requests as trivial.
So, when you need something, state what you need and include the reasons why it matters. If a cabinet is hanging off your wall and looks like it's about to crash into the floor, make that clear in your request. Say that it's about to fall, and it needs to be fixed immediately.
Conversely, if you have something relatively minor, like a dripping tap or a running toilet, tell your landlord about the problem, but give them a couple of days leeway to take care of it. Generally speaking, the nicer and more patient you can be with a difficult landlord, the better.
That said, if an issue comes up that the landlord won't help you resolve, you'll need to do a bit more work. You can try negotiating, but it's also worth looking into basic tenant laws in your state. If a landlord is violating any rights by not addressing your request, you can file a complaint. Just make sure to use that as a last resort (and start looking for another place).
From the second you do the initial walkthrough until you finally move out of your place, document everything you can. Here's a few things worth keeping track of:
- Take photos of the empty place when you move in. Make sure to take pictures of anything that's broken, damaged or otherwise in poor condition.
- Make any repair requests or other agreements in writing and keep the emails around until your lease is up.
- Write down any time and dates for phone or in person conversations that deal with specific issues.
- Keep track of any maintenance that's done throughout your lease.
Essentially, any time you communicate with your landlord or agent, it's worth documenting. Hold onto those documents until your lease is up and you have your bond back.