Avoiding Trouble in Landlord-Tenant Relationships

It’s no secret that generally, the landlord-tenant relationship is loaded with potential problems. This sad state of affairs affects over 110,175,847Americans, renting a total of 43,267,432 properties, which means that 35% of the population is involved in an ongoing, unsatisfactory relationship.

The typical landlord-tenant relationship is fraught with problems. Differences proliferate over every aspect of the rental process, starting with payments, repairs, leases, drop-ins, etc.

If you’ve got a long list of gripes about tenants, chances are tenants have a long list of gripes about landlords. Behind the cliché of “bad” tenants and “bad” landlords lies a more subtle story. For each report of a bad tenant, most of the conflicts could be traced to a breakdown in communication.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Complaints from both sides

Most often the “bad behavior” on either side is an issue caused by communication failures.

Some of the “bad tenants” landlords described:

  • Pay the rent late
  • Keep the property messy
  • Don’t report issues leading to loss. For example: leaking toilet = high water bill

And the things that drive tenants crazy:

  • Not respecting tenant privacy
  • Landlord ignoring repair requests
  • Lack of appreciation

The issues in each example of landlord-tenant relationships here can be blamed on poor communication.

If you’re a tenant, think about your last rental and the issues that you found aggravating.

  • How much advance warning did your landlord give before visiting the property?
  • Was the late fee, if you missed a payment, clearly laid out?
  • What the procedure to notify your landlord if the property needed a repair?

Landlords and tenants need to be on the same page about these kinds of issues, otherwise the stage is set for conflict.

Avoid grievances

If tenants know that the landlord is conscious of their concerns and is taking action to handle them, problem resolution is simple.

Most conflicts in the landlord-tenant relationship can be avoided. Tenant screening and attention to maintenance will help prevent a great many renter grievances.

Landlords have an obligation to make disclosures according to their legal obligations. Although this is business, renters are real people. They are parents, sons, and daughters and they deserve to be treated fairly and honestly.

Problems can enter in when landlords are not aware of their obligations. Out of town owners don’t always keep up with building plans, new real estate regulations and changing landlord-tenant laws

Put it in writing

There’s nothing wrong with tenants conducting some due diligence of their own. Some common-sense research could include: checking the landlord’s reputation online and determining if the property owner is solvent and up-to-date on the mortgage

Unfortunately, not every landlord-tenant relationship problem is a result of poor communication; situations happen where a tenant knowingly breaks the rules, can’t come up with the rent or causes damage. Bad landlords ignore tenants, won’t make repairs and disrespect their renter’s privacy.

Both parties should do their due diligence and put all pertinent points in the contract. So much stress, anxiety and conflict in the landlord-tenant relationship can be avoided when expectations are laid out clearly – in writing – from the very beginning.

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