Many of you are starting the hunt for your first apartment. You’ve thought about location, your budget, your “must haves” and your deal breakers. However, one item that people often overlook when they are apartment hunting is making sure that they also pick the right landlord/landlady or management company. A bad landlord can totally ruin your first apartment experience. As part of your due diligence before signing the lease, you need to check out your landlord’s reputation. Here are three signs of a good landlord to look for so that your living situation is great from the start!
1. A good landlord is responsive and keeps open communication with tenants.
When your dishwasher breaks, you are having pest problems, or the owner decides to sell the apartment, a good landlord will be responsive in a timely manner. They usually handle repairs, schedule new tenants visiting the apartment, and inform you of any changes in your housing agreement. Keep in mind however that some problems may be your responsibility if they are so specified in the lease. For example, some rental agreements will list home appliances that will be the tenant’s responsibility to repair or pay for repairs. So before you overload your washer with three weeks worth of clothes, check up your rental agreement first and know what you’re responsible for, and what your landlord is responsible for.
2. A good landlord respects your privacy.
A good landlord will understand that while you are renting out their apartment, you are creating a home for yourself and deserve privacy and respect for boundaries. This tends to be more of an issue when the owner of the house or apartment is acting as the landlord and has an emotional investment in the property. Except for emergency repairs (burst water line and like), a respectful landlord will give you notice if they need to stop by the property and will schedule the visit so that you can be home. They will not make changes to your apartment without asking you, or give negative feedback about your decorating style or how you are using the space, as long as you are not in violation of your lease. It’s important to establish this boundary with them early on and a good landlord will respect that.
3. A good landlord explains your rental agreement clearly and answers your questions honestly.
Are you in charge of your own utilities? Which ones? Do you have a grace period for late rent? Where are you allowed to park a car if you have one? A good landlord will write out the rental agreement very clearly so that everyone is on the same page for what the rules are, and what the expectations are. If you ask a question about the lease, look to see if a landlord answers a question easily and honestly. If their answer is vague maybe they are hiding something? Do they avoid questions? Nothing is worse than finding out that something is written and finalized in the lease when you didn’t mean to agree to it. Make sure you understand everything and know what you’re getting yourself into.
When you’re moving into your first apartment, you are probably also starting a new job or new school and you have enough to worry about without having to deal with a bad landlord! Do your homework and if you feel uneasy about renting from a particular landlord, move on. It’s ok to wait until your find a place where you feel more comfortable with the landlord. You may even need a reference from them later on in life, so pick someone you can get along with and trust!
For extra advice about how to start a good landlord relationship, check out My First Apartment’s Complete Guide to Dealing with Landlords before you sign your first lease.