A positive landlord-tenant relationship is crucial to any rental experience. Most landlords will go to great lengths to find and keep qualified, trustworthy tenants. Those who honor lease terms, respect the property and display financial responsibility.
However, your desirability as a tenant goes beyond a good credit score and a clean background check. There are certain qualities that will make you stand out as a tenant in your landlord's eyes and certain qualities that are immediate red flags.
Are you the type of tenant that helps landlords breathe easier or the type they warn each other about?
Do you pay rent on time?
Sometimes, all it takes is making one payment on time each month to stay in your landlord's good graces.
Your monthly rent payment is likely one of your largest expenses, and it's also probably one of your landlord's largest sources of income. Receiving this payment even a few days late can affect a landlord's ability to pay their mortgage or other financial obligations related to a property management business.
If you're simply having difficulty remembering to put a check in the mail each month, talk to your landlord about online payment options. This will allow you to set up automatic payments or instant bank transfers.
If you're dealing with financial struggles, avoid lying to your landlord or making up excuses to avoid repercussions for late payments. Be honest and direct to maintain trust — most landlords will be willing to work with you.
Do your guests crash for months at a time?
Most rental leases veto long-term guests without first touching base with your landlord. This is mainly because these guests go unscreened and they're not on the lease. Unapproved subletting or long-term guests can put you at risk, as well, since your name is on the lease and you are responsible for any potential damage they may cause.
If your landlord finds out about any unapproved roommates, you risk breaking your rental agreement and forfeiting your security deposit. Of course, your rental should feel like your home and you should host visitors as you please. But go ahead and give your landlord a quick heads up for any guests that are sticking around (check your lease agreement to see if long-term guests are defined as 7, 14 or 30 days).
Do you report maintenance issues right away?
Regular maintenance can make or break the profitability of a rental property, so your landlord will appreciate your help in protecting their investment. Issues like water leaks, electrical complications or HVAC system failure can quickly grow into larger problems if left unaddressed. Landlords have no way to keep tabs on these items themselves.
They're trusting you as their tenant to report maintenance issues in a timely manner, even if they might not seem like a big deal to you.
Do you keep your space generally tidy?
Some tenants are cleaner and some tenants are messier. But keeping your rental in generally good condition is crucial to preventing pests and ensuring the return of your security deposit at the end of your tenancy. The best way to ensure the longevity of a rental property is to keep it clean and well maintained, free of dirt, garbage and pests.
Carefully read through your lease agreement to understand your responsibilities as a tenant when it comes to maintaining the rental property. If your landlord conducts regular property inspections, they're likely to take note of the cleanliness and upkeep of your rental.
Commit to a deep clean of the entire unit on at least a seasonal basis to disinfect and keep less trafficked areas free of dirt and debris.
Have you gone through an eviction?
A prior eviction is one of the biggest red flags a tenant can have in a landlord's eyes. It means you've directly violated lease terms in the past with no potential to resolve the conflict. It's important to note that tenants may also be evicted for reasons that don't have to do with rental behavior. For example, if your landlord wants to occupy the property themselves or complete substantial renovations.
Having an eviction judgment against you can make it more difficult for you to rent in the future and can also negatively impact your credit report. If you've gone through an eviction, it's time to start working on your tenant appeal. Focus on building your credit score, pay any outstanding debt involved in the eviction and try to build a roster of strong references.
Remain professional and honest about the situation and consider offering an additional deposit or first and last month's rent to show your new landlord that you will be a stable tenant moving forward.
Are you a good communicator?
While landlords value open communication and timely responses, no one wants a tenant who is constantly complaining or asking for above and beyond attention. Bring up maintenance issues right away, be available to answer landlord inquiries as needed and contact your landlord with any other questions or concerns that may arise. Prioritize your requests and understand what classifies an emergency. In most cases, you won't be your landlord's only tenant or only priority. Unless it's a true emergency (fire, burst pipe, etc.), try to resolve the issue on your own before bringing in your landlord.
Keep up with being a good tenant
It's never too late to start being a great tenant. If you're struggling with your landlord-tenant relationship, check in with your landlord to see where you can improve as a renter to try and salvage the relationship.
Pay your rent on time and treat the property as if it was your own and you'll be well on your way to a better relationship, plus a higher probability of having your security deposit returned and an overall great rental reference in the future.