Whether you’re moving from on-campus to off-campus housing or you and your roommates are looking for a new rental house, staying in your new landlord’s good graces is a smart strategy. It pays off by helping you keep a good credit rating and earn positive references for future housing opportunities. Here are some tips for how to be a good tenant.
Pay Your Rent on Time
If you’ve never rented before, or if you haven’t paid attention to when the rent is due because someone else was paying it for you, make sure you’ve got your rent schedule—and the ability to pay it fully and on time. Don’t rent something that costs more than you can afford. Landlords don’t want to have to chase you down each month, and every time your rent is late, your reputation as a good tenant goes down a notch. Good rental houses and apartments are hard to find in college towns and in cities with strong employment and great jobs. Keep your reputation positive so that you have that going for you for the future.
Read Your Lease
Your lease will include your rent due date along with the length of your tenancy, but it will include a lot more than that, too. Most landlords will spell out several important items in the lease agreement, such as rules about pets and noise, responsibilities concerning utilities, giving notice for move-outs, and maintenance requests. When you sign, you become responsible for complying with the lease terms. It may look like a lot of dull fine print, but you must read it and understand what you’ve signed up for. If you don’t understand it, just ask.
Don’t Sneak Around
If you have a pet but your rental doesn’t allow them, or if your partner intends to move in even though they’re not listed on the lease, your landlord is within their rights to evict you if they find out. Be upfront and honest on your rental application, and the property management company or landlord will likely help you find something appropriate. Honesty is the best policy.
Check Your Credit
Your prospective landlord sure will. Before you start looking for a new place, make sure your credit report is in good shape and free of mistakes. Correcting it can be a hassle, but doing so is in your best interests, as it can prevent delays when you really need a rental.
Respect the Person and the Property
Keep your rental clean. Follow the rules about noise and pets. Treat the place as if you own it. Don’t try do-it-yourself repairs: instead, promptly communicate major maintenance issues such as leaks and broken or malfunctioning appliances. Your landlord understands their responsibility to keep the rental in working order, but they also have other properties and tenants who need their help. Don’t become a maintenance issue yourself by making multiple service requests for trivial issues.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re renting a new place, and how to be a good tenant should be near the top of your list.