What to Do When Dealing with a Difficult Landlord

Moving into a new home can be very exciting. Sure it takes a lot of hard work to get the job done, but when all is said and done, you are given an opportunity to start fresh. After all the hard work you spent moving in your new home, though, what if you find out your landlord is, well, let’s just say not the best? This is a problem that can easily take away most or all of your post-moving exciting. So what do you do? Here’s what to do if you end up with a difficult landlord:

Review the lease prior to signing. Before you ever sign your name on something as serious as a rental lease, it is critical that you read the entire document (this includes the fine print!). When reading, making note of any restrictions – overnight guests, noise, pets, smoking, etc. If any of these restrictions don’t comply with your lifestyle, then moving into this particular place can put you at risk for many problems – problems that can lead to a less-than-nice landlord.

Another thing to look for when reading over your lease agreement is any extra fees, such as amenities charges or a monthly pet payment. You should also find out if any utilities, like water, are included in your rent. Knowing this type of information is very important when renting a property because it ensures you know exactly what you are paying for and how much you owe each month.

Be sure to pay particular attention to any penalties you may face if you break the lease before the term is up, and also what is required in order for you to get your security deposit back after moving out. Not having an exact understanding of what you are signing is risky and can lead to many problems, so be sure to read the fine print before signing your John Hancock.

Research Local Laws. Another good thing to do when moving into a rental property is to know your rights as a tenant. This knowledge has the potential to save you a great deal of pain if you end up with a difficult landlord.

When renting, your landlord is kind of like your boss – in the sense that you have to play some some of the rules they set. But don’t think this means you have no rights as a tenant, because you do! So be in the know and learn your rights to protect yourself during any negative rental problems you may encounter. Tenant renter rights are laws that govern the standards landlords are required to meet when providing domicile to tenants. These laws also detail how tenants can legally exert their rights int the event of abuse.

Keep Records. If you begin to experience problems with your landlord, it is incredibly important to keep any and all records. Having records of problems that take place is the best way to protect your rights as a tenant. It can also eliminate any “he said/she said” situations because yo will have the visible proof right at your fingertips of the events that played out. Keep copies of any canceled rent checks and detailed records of any phone conversations, including the date and time of exchange and also what was discussed.

Pay Your Rent. The ideal way to avoid problems with your landlord is to stay on top of your rental payments. Even in the event of a dispute, it is wise to continue paying your rent while you and your landlord work out the issue(s) at hand. This way, you won’t have any negative strikes against you as a tenant, especially if you are dealing with a landlord that doesn’t play fair.

Maintain Communication. If you encounter a problem with your rental property, it is best to maintain open, clear and respectful communication with your landlord. No matter what the issue is that you are having, raising your voice, making inappropriate remarks, and overall being a total hot head will never work out in your favor. If you ever wind up in court over issues with your landlord, you’ll want the judge to look kindly toward the interactions you had with your landlord. Losing your cool has a way of biting you in the butt later.

Request Repairs in Writing. There is any of things that can go wrong with a rental property. Your plumbing may malfunction, your garbage disposal may stop working, or your air conditioner may go on the fritz. Yes, it can be frustrating, but it’s how efficiently your landlord takes care of situations like these that matters. Landlords – especially those with many properties to take care of – are very busy. Leaving a message on their voicemail is okay, but there is a chance your landlord may overlook your message. That’s why it’s a good idea to also turn in a written repairs request. A written request serves two purposes:

  1. To provide your landlord with notice of a problem.
  2. To provide documentation for your own records, just in case the request is ignored.

Find a Peaceful Solution. Along with maintaining calm verbal communication with your landlord, you will also want to ensure you find a peaceful solution to any problems that may arise. No matter what the disagreement or issue there is, law enforcement or the court system should always be used as a last resort. If you hope to continue living on the property, involving the law can damage the long-term relationship between you and your landlord. Not to mention, it also costs time and money. To save yourself a lot of unpleasantries, opt to keep the peace and settle any issues calmly and rationally.

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Before You Sign a Lease, Ask These Important Questions First

After what probably feels like months of looking for a new place to live, you are most likely thrilled when you finally find The One. It’s close to work, it’s in an area of town that you love, and it will serve as a wonderful home for you and your family. The fact that you have actually found a place you love and can afford can be truly exciting. But before your excitement takes over and you sign a rental lease, be sure to ask these important questions first!

When is the rent due?

This is one of the most important questions you should ask before signing a lease. Rent is generally due on the first of each month. However, many landlords give you a few days grace, allowing it to be paid a few days later, such as on the third or fifth of each month. While some property managers are laid back about late payments, some are very strict – charging you late fees or even evicting you if it happens more than once. Late fees can be awful, and an eviction is even worse, so be sure to find out the exact date the rent is due and be sure it is stated on your lease agreement.

How long is the lease?

You’ll find that most rental leases run for 12 months then expire. At this point, you are required to either sign a new lease or move out. But it is important to know that there is a wide variety of leases with differing lengths of time required. This is why you should ask when your lease expires before ever signing it. Along with this question, you should also find out if the lease will automatically renew or convert to a month-by-month tenancy. Most landlords or property managers will contact you prior to your lease ending in order to find out what your intentions are, but it is best to know how long your lease lasts before ever moving in so you understand your living circumstances well.

How do I document previous property damage?

Before you move into your rental property, your landlord will most likely be handling any damages that the previous tenant(s) inflicted upon the space – stained carpets, scarred or dirty walls, etc. But some damages to the property may be overlooked. When the day comes for you to move out, you don’t want to be held responsible for damages you didn’t cause. No way! This is why it is important to document any problems before moving in. There are several things you should check:

  • Functionality of electrical outlets
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Heating and air-conditioning systems

If you find any problems, be sure they are included in the lease agreement before signing it.

Is anything included?

When you rent a house or apartment, you expect to pay a monthly fee to live there. But it is unwise to assume that anything else is included in the rent. Trash pickup and parking, for instance, may have been included in the rent at your previous location, but that doesn’t mean they will be at your new home. So ask your landlord about what – if anything – is included prior to signing the lease.

Is there an eviction policy?

This question may make you feel as though you are labeling yourself a troublemaker, but it is actually a common and worthwhile thing to ask. When renting, it is important you and your landlord are on the same page. This eliminates any miscommunications or negative feelings toward one another. If your landlord prohibits anything specific – pets, loud parties, smoking inside or out, etc. – it is important to be aware of these things so you don’t get evicted because you broke certain rules.

Can I make improvements?

When you move to a new place, there are going to be certain things you just don’t like. For example, you may hate the faucets in the bathroom sink or wish to paint one of the bedrooms a different color. When owning a home, you have the privilege of making whatever improvements you want. But when renting, the ball isn’t totally in your court. Before moving in, it’s a good idea to ask your landlord if you are allowed to make changes to the property and if they are willing to pay for them. While some landlords may welcome the offer, some will be much more hesitant and say no. Either way, it is important to know their answer ahead of time and to have it documented in the lease.

Do you know of other important questions one should ask before signing on the dotted line? Help out your fellow movers and state them in the comments sections!