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October 9 2015

How to Be a Good Tenant

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While it is important to focus on your rights as a tenant, it is even more important to be a good tenant to your landlord and a good neighbor to your fellow tenants. Happy neighbors help create a great community and a supportive living environment; and, a happy landlord likely means living with fewer tenant inspections and may mean a more positive experience at renewal or rent increase time.

Here are a few suggestions on how to be a great tenant:

1. Read Your Lease Before You Sign It

Read your lease from start to finish before you sign it and know what your rights are and what you are both allowed to do and not allowed to do. If you ever have questions as to whether you are allowed to do something, firstly think about how it will impact both the landlord and your fellow tenants and secondly, ask your landlord. Respecting the terms of your lease will help you prevent problems or misunderstandings before they actually happen.

2. Don't Break the Lease

Most tenants think breaking a lease means things like not paying the rent, leaving early or subletting without permission. However, every term of the lease is important and typically will relate to your landlord's protecting either its rental income, property value, property security and safety, or the living environment and community for all tenants in the building. If you respect the terms of your lease, odds are that you will co-exist happily with your landlord and your fellow tenants.

3. Pay Your Rent on Time

Generally, nothing concerns your landlord more than a tenant who doesn't pay their rent on time every month. Don't skip a beat with your rent payments and your landlord will be more likely to be supportive when you really need them to be. Additionally, if you have an unavoidable situation that may result in a rare late rent payment, let your landlord know as soon as possible, and in advance, as they are more likely to be supportive if you are upfront about it. Understand and appreciate that your landlord is running a business and is dependent on your rent payment to pay its own expenses, including a mortgage.

4. Take Care of Your Home (aka the Landlord's Property)

Taking exceptional care of your rental unit will help ensure that you minimize the deduction off of your deposit when you move out, and it will also put you in good favor with your landlord during the course of your tenancy. While normal wear and tear occurs, intentional or accidental damage to your rental unit will impact both your security deposit and your relationship with your landlord.

Additionally, keep your rental unit clean. If your landlord, during its routine inspection, comes in and sees your unit in a good, clean, scent-free condition, they will likely trust you more, inspect your unit less frequently and treat you more favorably at lease renewal time.

5. Be a Positive Part of Your Rental Community

Knowing and respecting your neighbors has several benefits.Neighbors can watch out for each other and provide security for each other. Neighbors can also do favors for each other. Most importantly, establishing a line of communication with your fellow tenants helps reduce the chance of your neighbor speaking to the landlord if, despite your best efforts to keep quiet, you do something that accidentally impacts or bothers your neighbors.

Stay tuned for the next entry in the series … we look ourselves in the mirror and examine How to Be a Good Landlord!