This is a column by regular contributor Clark.
This blog has recently featured a number of posts about real estate. I figured that a tenant’s perspective on the relationship would do justice. I have shared an apartment during my school days and currently rent one level of a house on my own. I’d like to list some points from my renting experience that I find make for a good, if not great, landlord-tenant relationship.
1) Promptness. From my side, this includes paying rent on time and reporting problems at the earliest. The landlord has duly issued a receipt each month and responded to problems swiftly. Due to my trust, sometimes, I drop off a check, forgo collecting the receipt immediately (it is usually the landlord who is busy on the phone or with someone else) and get it along with the next month’s receipt. Rent is due on the 1st of the month but due to holidays or landlord’s unavailability, once-in-a-while, I’ve paid it several days later too.
But, say, I make it a practice to pay it on the 5th of each month and the landlord does not object (since we have developed mutual trust); if we ever go to court for late payment, the landlord cannot use the original lease agreement that says “rent is due on the 1st of each month”, since an estoppel would prevent him from doing so. An estoppel would thwart the landlord (or tenant as the case may be) from going back on the position (collecting rent on the 5th) that he previously took, either by deed or silence. This is something both parties should be aware of, more so landlords with late payment issues.
2) Respect. I treat the property as my own and I say this in a good way. I maintain the place as though it were my own. Being a minimalist helps, since I don’t have clutter and the house is easier to clean.
3) Privacy. It is probably basic courtesy but I’ve never had my landlord knock on the door at unearthly hours as valid as the reason could be! When he has come unannounced, he has been apologetic and always had a good excuse.
4) Trust. There have been times when there were renovations occuring in the evenings. I waited a couple of days thinking that they may have had an emergency to attend to on those days and hence, were trying to finish the day’s quota at all costs. But, on the third day, there was some drilling going on and my patience ran out. Luckily, the landlord was around helping out with the work; I called him outside and explained that I did not sign up for what was happening and that it was starting to get irritating. He apologized and said that he will make sure that there was no noisy work after I got home and they would keep it to painting. He kept his promise. Maybe, we did not set terms explicitly or he took advantage of our good relationship. Either way, a little talk solved the issue and I’m sure it’ll pay dividends in many other cases too.
I realize that many landlord-tenant problems arise due to money-related issues but there are other factors that should be considered for a seamless stay. I haven’t covered situations such as unfair rent increases, abnormal restrictions, tenants fixing a problem on their own (against the agreement) since it happened on a weekend or the landlord was not immediately available, etc., as I do not recall any from experience.
If you’ve ever been a tenant, how was your experience? Do you have any stories or tips that would improve the experience for both parties?
About the Author: Clark is a twenty-something Saskatchewan resident employed in the manufacturing sector. He repaid around $20,000 in student loans and has been working to build his investment portfolio as a DIY investor (not trader) while nurturing plans to retire early. He loves reading (and using the lessons learned) about personal finance, technology and minimalism.