Renting an apartment or condo, leasing a piece of equipment, renting business property, or leasing a car all involve the common practice of borrowing something that is owned by others. This experience can easily become a nightmare with a bad landlord or if you don’t understand your obligations. Here are some hints to become a smarter renter.
Read all agreements. Read the lease agreement thoroughly prior to signing. Ask for clarification of anything you do not understand. Look for clauses in the agreement that might suggest this property owner has problems with its current tenants. If it seems unfriendly, don’t sign it.
Negotiate upfront. Be ready to negotiate your lease terms upfront. If anything is unclear in the lease, have it clarified and put in writing. Do not depend on word of mouth. Be very clear about security deposits, first- and last-month rents, and services included in the lease.
Follow the terms. Be the tenant that pays a little early, not the one that always pays late. That way if you ever need a little extra time to pay, you have established the necessary trust to do so.
Proactive disclosure. If you think you will need a temporary exception to part of the lease, try to include it in your upfront negotiations. This could be something like a specific rent schedule or allowances for a pet. If this is not possible, consider proactively disclosing the exception to your property owner. This will help build trust and a reputation as a good tenant.
Keep the property clean. This is especially important if you have a pet in a rental home. When landlords come into your home, you will build confidence if the place looks like you treat it as if you owned it. The same is true with rented equipment. Always return it cleaner than you received it.
Know the owner and neighbors. Building a relationship with the property owner and your neighbors helps. If your neighbor has a problem, wouldn’t you rather have them come to you than your landlord? Establishing a good working relationship with a landlord will help you when you need help with a problem in your apartment or with the equipment you rent.
Leave with a smile. This is especially true for home and vacation rentals. When you leave, have the property cleaned and hassle-free for the landlord. Request a reference from the landlord for future rentals.