Landlord Etiquette 101

Gentleman Tipping FedoraMany renters find out, after they’ve already moved in, that not all landlords are created equal when it comes to respecting a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the property. It may be a landlord who mysteriously appears often at the property, one who enters without notice or one who leaves personal items behind in the property. Whatever the annoyance, it can quickly lead to a strained landlord-tenant relationship.

The key to being a good landlord — and making more money on your rentals — is to have a good working relationship with your tenants. Here’s how to balance taking care of your property with being respectful of your tenants and their personal space.

Find good tenants

If you rent your property to decent tenants, then you’ll be less likely to worry and you’ll be less nosy. That will translate into leaving your tenants alone, which will make everyone happy. So work hard to find good tenants by doing the proper credit checks, calling references, talking to past landlords and verifying income before agreeing to let someone rent your property.

Give proper notice

Once your residents have moved in, you should try to avoid going by the property without notice. No one likes someone watching them — and this includes driving by, too. Always try to give proper notice, at least 24 hours, so they can clean up and be ready for your arrival. Most tenants are not going to mind reasonable inspections (two to three times per year) as long as they know you are coming. Remember, most tenants are concerned about the landlord for various reasons. Put them at ease, and you’ll have a better relationship with them.

Make timely repairs

So what about a landlord’s time frame for fixing broken items? Obviously water, electrical, gas, heater and air conditioner issues need to be attended to immediately. But sometimes less vital items such as malfunctioning appliances or sticky doors fall lower on a landlord’s to-do list. Keep your tenants posted on the status of clearing any issues, and try to fix them as soon as you can.

Advice for tenants

The better tenant you are, the less concerned your landlord will be. If you take great care of the property and don’t cause issues, you’ll soon learn your landlord has much better things to do than keep an eye on you. Paying rent on time, keeping the property in good shape and being neighborly all help reduce a landlord’s stress and will benefit you by leading to fewer inspections and better service when issues arise.

If something is still irritating you, such as the landlord leaving personal items in the house or coming by too often, try the diplomatic approach first. Just a nice short and courteous email goes a long way with most people.

If that doesn’t work, unfortunately your best option might be to just move at the end of your lease term. Make sure to let the landlord know why you’re moving: It’ll serve as a hard lesson that putting in the extra effort to keep good tenants usually pays off.

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Leonard Baron, MBA, is America’s Real Estate Professor®. His unbiased, neutral and inexpensive “Real Estate Ownership, Investment and Due Diligence 101” textbook teaches real estate owners how to make smart and safe purchase decisions. He is a past lecturer at San Diego State University and teaches continuing education to California real estate agents at The Career Compass.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.