Most tenants don't give much thought to the tenant-landlord relationship, and that's not a good way to ensure peaceful and positive living conditions during the term of your lease. If you take the time to abide by the rules and regulations, as well as being mindful of how the landlord operates, you can enjoy the benefits of that positive relationship. This is especially important if you live in your apartment for more than a couple of years. Here are important tips on how to develop and maintain a great relationship with your landlord, and these efforts will pay dividends down the line in terms of service, rental rates, and even preferential treatment.
Apply Honestly and Don't Ask Unreasonable Questions
A good relationship with your landlord starts before you even sign the lease agreement. If you're touring an apartment and truly love it, make sure you start things off on the right foot with your landlord. First of all, when asking questions, don't be unreasonable. This means, don't ask for a discount on rent right off the bat, don't inquire about services you know they don't have, and by no means should you request any special treatment.
Also, when you apply, make sure your personal information is factual: job, actual income, credit history, etc. Do not ever lie because chances are your landlord will find out, and that's a bad way to start out any relationship. If you're honest and you qualify for the apartment, your landlord knows he/she can trust you.
Understand Your Lease Agreement
Face it, you pretty much never read your lease agreement other than the monthly rental cost and due date. That's a bad idea as a tenant and not ideal for a good relationship with your landlord. You may be responsible for certain aspects you're unaware of. Proper trash disposal, parking regulations, quiet hours, unit upkeep, etc. If you don't read these and understand them, you'll certainly hear about violations from your landlord. Don't be that tenant.
Take the time to read and write down what your responsibilities as a tenant are, as stated in your lease agreement. Follow these religiously, and your landlord won't receive any complaints about your violating them. The less he or she is bothered with such issues, the better your relationship will be. Many of the headaches that arise out of apartment living stem from a failure to read the fine print.
Get All the Relevant Apartment Details
In addition to the information in the lease agreement, obtain key information about your apartment's rules and regulations, as well as miscellaneous but relevant details upfront. Items like your mailbox key, trash collection days, access to amenities, utility connections, etc. are all important tidbits of information that should not be obtained by making individual phone calls to the leasing or management office. You're not the only tenant in the building, and there are numerous requests submitted to your landlord daily. Don't be the tenant who adds to the burden.
If your landlord hasn't provided these at the outset, write a list of questions you would like answered and get them taken care of all at once. Make an appointment by your landlord's preferred method of contact (find this out first) and then abide by that appointment. Make sure your list is comprehensive so you don't have to go back to the well for more information later.
Pay Your Rent On Time or Communicate Early
This is the big one. Once you start falling behind on rent payments, you definitely end up on the bad list. The landlord's primary objective is collecting rent and keeping the books in the black. If you're in a bad situation, don't wait until the day rent is due to tell your landlord you can't pay.
If you know it's going to be a tough month due to unforeseen expenses, contact your landlord early and propose specific terms. Don't simply say, "I can't pay on time this month. Sorry." Tell them when you can pay the entire amount (within a reasonable time period) and when you can return to normal rental payment terms. Make sure you commit to it with a specific date, so your landlord knows when he or she can expect it. This will help you stay on good terms, as long as you don't make it a habit.
Handle Small Things Yourself
While it's true that most apartment issues are the responsibility of the landlord, every little task adds up to a mountain of headaches when you fail to handle them yourself. Is it really necessary to call the landlord to screw in a light bulb, replace a smoke detector battery, unclog a drain, or tighten a loose screw? You don't have to be a handyman or contractor to do these yourself, and it will go a long way with your landlord. Keep batteries on hand, buy a bottle of Drano, keep a toolbox handy. It's not that hard.
If there's something major to repair like a broken refrigerator door or failed lockset, then by all means contact them. You don't want to do more harm than good when the task far exceeds your skillset. Submit the request properly and don't bother them constantly. If the landlord fails to be responsive to your requests, still be courteous and kind. Make sure you're not one of those tenants who barks at the landlord when you don't get what you want when you want.