Your landlord probably hates you.
It's not necessarily your fault, but there's a good chance it's probably true.
I've been a landlord for seven years and have had dozens of tenants that I simply can't stand. They irritate me, cost me a lot of money, and make my life a stressful nightmare. Now, I know you think that you aren't one of "those" tenant, but how sure are you?
This post is a look "behind-the-scenes" to help you get a glimpse of how we landlords think and feel regarding you, the tenant, in an effort to improve your relationship with us; because we want good relationships. The most successful landlords are those with calm seas, and this post is designed to help calm the water for both sides of the renting relationship. Not only does it help your landlord -- more importantly, it helps you!
Before I go on, let's just get this out of the way: I know there are a lot of terrible landlords out there. Tons of them. Perhaps your landlord is one of them, and for that: I'm sorry. We're not all greedy, mean taskmasters hell bent on making your life miserable.
However, no matter how bad your landlord is, there are things you can do to improve the relationship and make your life as a tenant better. This post is going to look at four of the most irritating tenant traits, and offer some tips for being... well... less hate-worthy!
1.) Unnecessary Phone Calls
When I first got started with landlording, I had a tenant call me up at 4:00 in the morning shouting "My sink is leaking water all over the kitchen!!"
I quickly jumped out of bed, ran out the door, and sped to the tenant's place. When I arrived, I discovered the whole story...
A drain pipe has come loose under the sink, so when the tenant did dishes, small amounts of water would drip from beneath the sink. The tenant knew the problem only occurred when doing the dishes, but decided that 4 am would be the ideal time to do the dishes and call the landlord for a repair.
Okay -- if your water line breaks and is shooting water all over the place, please call us. It's important. We need to fix that asap.
However, if your kitchen sink drips when doing dishes... stop doing the dishes and call for maintenance at a reasonable time. If you don't like the condensation that's building up on your window during the winter... please grab a towel and wipe it off. If your neighbor parks in the wrong spot once, please just ask them to move. These are not issues you need to call me about.
I can't tell you the number of phone calls I've received in which it took the tenant longer to call me than it would have taken for them to address whatever issue it is they were so concerned about.
A landlord's job is to provide a clean, functional place to live -- but it's never going to be perfect. Call when it's important, but don't call when it's not! Your landlord probably has a very busy life outside of their real estate endeavors, so seek to make yourself only a small part of it.
2.) Not Reporting Real Problems
Several years ago I was walking through the parking lot at one of my properties and a tenant came out and asked me if they could move to a different apartment unit.
I asked "why" and they said because there is too much mold in their unit. I quickly followed them upstairs to their apartment and discovered that the roof had been leaking severely for years, causing an impressive amount of mold to grow across their ceiling. I immediately called the appropriate contractors and they completely fixed the problem, costing me thousands and thousands of dollars.
All of this could have been avoided if the tenant had simply mentioned years ago, "hey, there is some water dripping from my bedroom ceiling."
I know I just got finished telling you NOT to call me about silly maintenance concerns. However, not calling about important ones is even worse.
If you know anything about maintenance, you know that a small fix now could save tens of thousands of dollars later. So please... call me when it's important. I'm not going to raise your rent or mock you about your messy apartment when you report a real problem.
3.) Late Rent
Somewhere in American society, people got confused.
There is a belief that all landlords are wealthy; that we just take your money to buy beer, boats and cigars. However, the fact is: We don't play this real estate investing game because it's making us super wealthy today... we're in it for our retirement. (For more on how this whole "real estate investing for retirement" works, check out "The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing.")
Many landlords actually lose money every month, or make less than minimum wage with the work we do. We have the monthly mortgage payment, the property taxes, the insurance, the maintenance bills, utility bills, lawn care bills and a handful of other bills that all need to be paid -- and guess what: we can't simply call them up and explain that our tenant spent their money on something else.
I understand that life is hard. I really do. I've lived paycheck to paycheck nearly my entire life, and I know there is often more "month" than "money."
However, I also know that your rent payment is never a surprise... it comes every month. It's easy to turn "routine" into "low priority" but this is what drives landlords crazy. We check out your Facebook page, and see that you posted about your brand new "Xbox One" just days before your rent was due.
Yes, this happens all the time, and we hate it.
If there truly is an emergency and you really can't pay rent, call us far ahead of time and let us know the situation. Have a plan for how you are going to make things right.
Above all: don't bury your head in the sand. Be proactive about your rent payment issues!
This post has been a little negative, but to be honest -- 90 percent of my tenants are absolutely wonderful people who do things right. They pay on time, call at appropriate times and don't cause me tons of stress! I sincerely hope that's you.
However, it's the other 10 percent of tenants that cause me 90 percent of my headaches and drive me absolutely insane. Please, please, please... don't be that tenant!
Be a tenant that has the respect of your landlord will help you avoid rent raises, get maintenance concerns fixed quicker, and potentially get you less stress in the future. Hopefully this post can help transform you from a tenant your landlord hates to a tenant your landlord loves.
Do you agree? Disagree? Want to rant about your terrible landlord?! Let me know in the comments and let's talk about it!