By Lori Melton
Renting is a great option for those who don’t want the investment or commitment involved with buying a home. There are plenty of avenues for finding the perfect rental property, including browsing online listings, getting a personal tip or referral, and working with a realtor. But, how do you know if you’re getting a good landlord along with your rental? Here are some things to look for to help you spot a helpful, trustworthy landlord.
Honesty is the Best Policy
Trust is an important part of any relationship, and it’s a critical factor in a business/legal relationship. Therefore, you need to find an honest, trustworthy landlord. A good way to judge a potential landlord’s honesty is to ask tough questions and weigh the answers. For example, does the unit have any known flaws or concerns? Break-ins, floods, insect, and rodent problems are some possible rental property issues. A good landlord should be up front about these kinds of issues. If your potential landlord seems dodgy or evasive, you probably want to look elsewhere.
Word of Mouth Says a Lot
Talking to fellow tenants is one of the best ways to get feedback about a prospective landlord. If you’re moving into a multi-unit building, knock on some doors and ask the neighbors what kind of experience they’ve had in dealing with the landlord.
Some questions you might ask include:
- Does the landlord respond to calls within a reasonable time?
- Has the rent unexpectedly spiked?
- Are the grounds, sidewalks and buildings regularly maintained?
- Is the landlord personable and friendly or curt and unhelpful?
If you can get multiple opinions and they all match closely, it should give you a pretty accurate idea of what dealing with the landlord will be like. If you don’t like what you hear, you can opt to move on to another property.
Customer Enthusiasm is Key
A landlord is a business owner and you, the potential tenant, are the customer. A good landlord should strive to be customer focused and look for ways to generate customer enthusiasm. If you do a walk-through and like the rental unit, try to sit down with the landlord after and address your most important concerns and questions.
Topics to cover could include:
- What is the typical repair or maintenance call response and turnaround time?
- Is there a chance your unit would be sold while you’re living there?
- Is there any flexibility in rent payment due dates and times? You obviously don’t want to pay your rent late. But, is there any grace given during extreme illness or emergencies?
- Are they willing to adjust your due date to fit your paycheck schedule? Is there an after-hours drop box?
Anything a landlord is willing to do to make reasonable accommodations for you is a sign of a good landlord. If he or she can’t guarantee timeliness for maintenance issues, though, this could be a red flag. Prompt and courteous service should always be of the utmost importance to a landlord. Flexibility and understanding are also great traits to look for. If you get the vibe a landlord might undervalue customers, then you’ll probably want to move on.
Personality is a Plus
Finally, assessing a potential landlord’s personality is going to tell you a lot about what your relationship with her could be like. Generally, if a landlord is friendly, open, and willing to answer all your questions, this is a good sign. And, if she takes some extra initiative to welcome you into the community (maybe by pointing out the nearest grocery store, post office, bank, or park) this is even better. Establishing a friendly rapport from your first meeting could help reassure you you’re making the right choice for a long-term tenant-landlord relationship.