Whether you rent an apartment, duplex or house, getting along well with your landlord and neighbors is vital. Unless you want to be packing up and moving, it pays to be a model tenant. Check out these basic guidelines and you’ll be well on your way to being a responsible and respectful renter.
Read your lease and the rules. The lease document is long and excruciatingly detailed, but you need to read it before you sign. That’s where you’ll find important information such as when you need to give notice at the end of your lease. Tip: It can be as much as three months in advance. Don’t forget to read the guidelines for living in the unit, such as how many guests are permitted at the pool and when trash cans need to be brought in from the curb.
Pay your rent on time each month. You’ll avoid late fees and a ding to your credit report, and you will keep the landlord happy.
Obtain renters insurance. Many renters mistakenly think that the landlord’s insurance will cover their personal belongings in case of fire or other loss. Think again. The landlord’s policy protects the dwelling, but renters must have their own policies covering personal property. Renters insurance also provides liability protection. If someone visiting you gets hurt on the property, if your toilet overflows and damages other tenants’ belongings, your renters insurance has you covered.
When in doubt, ask. If you want to do something not clearly covered in your lease or the property rules, ask first. Don’t assume you can paint the bedroom or wallpaper the bathroom.
Don’t exploit the rules. Violating clearly stated rules — such as number of pets permitted — is a no-no. Penalties may be assessed and you may make enemies of your neighbors.
Treat the place as if it were your own. Don’t abuse the property, keep it clean and report any repair issues promptly.
Be a good neighbor. Keep the noise level down and avoid parking in other tenants’ spaces. Get to know your neighbors. It’s a great way to make friends and have someone to call on when you need some extra help. It’s also a great neighborhood security measure.