Get the Upper Hand in the Rental Process: Be the Best Tenant You Can Be

There are a number of benefits to having a positive relationship with your landlord.

No doubt you already see yourself as a good tenant?and you probably are. You pay the rent on time, or at least never more than a few days past the deadline. You know in general what your lease allows and doesn?t allow, and you follow it within reason. Last but not least, you smile and say hello whenever you see your landlord. However, chances are that you can do a few more things to be the best tenant possible, and get the upper hand when it comes to rent increases, landlord visits, possible disputes with other tenants and more.

1. Know your lease. Do not merely skim it; take the time to read even the fine print. At least do it because your lease is a legal contract, and you should protect yourself and be aware of your responsibilities whenever possible.

2. Honor the lease. Follow what it says, even if parts seem unreasonable. If you want to paint or get a pet, but the lease says no, get written permission from the landlord. (And the better a tenant you are in general, the more likely the landlord is happy to work with you.) Keep your written permission in a file just in case; landlords can forget verbal agreements. And if the landlord says no, respect his wishes. You can try again later.

3. Stick with written requests for maintenance, and don?t sweat the small stuff. Calling in addition to writing is fine, and often speedier, but follow up those requests with written documentation. If you email, print a copy of the email that includes the date and time of the email. Follow the same idea for faxed requests. For relatively small issues such as smoke alarm batteries and lightbulb changes, take charge yourself.

4. Be kind, on time, and treat others nicely. Be a good neighbor; keep the noise and bustle down as much as possible. Pay your rent early or on time. Maintain the property as if you owned it.