When you enter into a rental agreement with a landlord, you’re both making commitments, taking risks and placing trust in each other to perform under the rental agreement.
The landlord is opened up to financial risk - mainly arrears and damage, and the renter’s living conditions and stable housing are in the hands of the landlord. Both parties depend on each other. It’s important that trust and open communication are present.
Establishing and maintaining a good relationship with your landlord fosters trust, loyalty and understanding when things go wrong, which is possible at some point during the tenancy.
These rental guidelines are important to consider getting to know your landlord, and fostering a sense of trust and dependency upon each other.
1. Be upfront
Starting off on the right foot is the most important thing when starting a lease. It shows your sense of character and will help your landlord to form a proper understanding of you. So, first off, make sure your application is true and accurate. It’s pretty easy for your landlord to figure out if you’ve got an extra house mate or pet that wasn’t mentioned in the tenancy application or agreement, and when they find out, you could be in breach of the agreement.
2. Pay your rent on time
The most important thing for most landlords is that you pay your rent on time. They are often financially dependent on you paying your rent on time so they can finance their mortgage repayments. When you’re late with rent, this can put stress on your landlord and your relationship with them.
Be sure to pay on time or even early as this will develop a sense of trust and understanding from the landlord if you do have a one-off problem or hiccup when paying rent. If you’re paid monthly or fortnightly, try letting your landlord know and ask to start your lease a couple days after your payday so you can be consistent with paying, even if your pay comes in slightly late.
3. Be friendly
Being friendly is easy (and free) and is of course important in developing any relationship, so things are no different with your landlord. Being friendly builds trust and will often mean your landlord will be more understanding if you are running late on rent (don’t get used to doing this, though) or asking for repairs.
If your landlord lives in the same building or neighbourhood as you, be especially sure to say hello when you bump into them. Don’t use that opportunity to informally report repairs do that in a considered written way.
4. Pay attention to the terms of your lease
Although it can be tempting to “sign here” and not read through the entirety of the terms of your lease, it’s important to know the rules of your tenancy. Reading through the terms means you know what’s expected from your landlord, and also allows you to try to negotiate some of the terms where reasonable.
If the tenancy agreement asks you to seek permission before making any alterations then be sure to ask your landlord first. If you can present a reasonable argument for the alteration (especially if it creates value for your landlord), then go ahead and reach out but be ready to compromise.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When you live in a property, especially for a while, it’s inevitable that maintenance will need to be performed from time to time, whether it’s a crack in the wall, loose door handle or leak in the roof, be sure to notify your landlord as soon as possible.
Maintenance issues that go unfixed for an extended period of time can become more expensive to fix down the line, so notifying them early is imperative.
6. Be patient
When asking for help or repairs, you can’t always expect your landlord to respond immediately. Many landlords look after multiple properties or have full time jobs, and may have other requests or work to tend to before they can get around to helping you.
If you need to follow-up on the maintenance request, then be sure to remain polite if you need to stress the timeliness of the repair. However, if your landlord has a history of ignoring requests or doesn’t get around to it in a reasonable amount of time, then be sure to check your state’s rental authority about landlord negligence, although it’s important to give them the benefit of the doubt first.
7. Get everything in writing
As there can be some legal repercussions for negligence throughout your rental term, it’s important to document your communications with your landlord throughout the duration of your rental term.
Especially when agreeing to matters related to your tenancy agreement (e.g. allowing for one-off alterations or a lease renewal), it’s important to have the new terms of the agreement in writing so that you can use this as evidence if ever needed.
8. Understand your rental obligations
It’s important to know your legal obligations and rights when renting, so that you can protect yourself if something goes wrong throughout the duration of your tenancy. This is especially the case when it comes to neglected repairs or maintenance, unauthorised entry to the property and viewings.
Your relevant state rental authority has many factsheets on renters’ rights so be sure to read through them if you believe that you are being neglected or treated unfairly by your landlord.
9. End on a good note
The very large majority of tenancies work well for everyone - both renters and landlords - however, there are inevitably reasons you might have to move. If you choose to end your tenancy, be sure to give your landlord a sufficient amount of notice (preferably even more than legally required) so that your landlord has plenty of time to find a new tenant. A great landlord reference is worth its weight in gold so be sure to end things in the right way and on a good note.