Have you ever had a landlord keep a portion of your security deposit for repairs? Perhaps your landlord has changed the rules of the apartment before you even moved out. Maybe you have even been threatened with eviction. These unfortunate circumstances are an all too common feature of life for tenants who rent. However, they are almost always easily avoidable if the tenant takes a proactive approach to living in someone’s rented space. Here are a few tips:
Catalog the problems with your apartment before you move in
This is usually a part of any rental agreement. The tenant is required to inspect and fill out a sheet pointing out any defects with the apartment that are there before they move in. However, many tenants do not take it seriously enough and only list the obvious ones. Or else they do not do a complete inspection. If you do not identify problems like a broken door handle or busted outlet, you could end up footing the bill for it. Oftentimes if you do not list it the landlord will assume that you created the defect and then charge you for it when you move out. He may or may not win that argument, but if you catalogued it on your initial rental sheet you can avoid that battle all together, and then win if there is a dispute.
Always report any repairs to the landlord
This is the same principle as the one above: as soon as you identify a problem, let the landlord know. Many rental agreements will split up the responsibility for repairs. But if the broken item is the landlord’s responsibility he needs to be notified right away so that he can tackle the issue. If you do not notify him or you notify him too late, it could cost him more money for the repair and then he may end up charging you for a portion of it, or even worse, it could become your responsibility completely.
Pay your rent on time
Perhaps the biggest area of dispute between landlord and tenant involves late rental payments. Landlords are generally fairly hands off, until you mess with their money. Late rental payments will have the landlord on a tenant’s case as fast as humanly possible. It is also a leading cause of eviction. A good rule of thumb is to set up your payment schedule so that you are paying the landlord a week before the rent is actually due. Or at least have the money ready a week in advance. This will prevent you from having to scramble at the last second to perhaps mail a check a day or two late. Chronic lateness will help the landlord to enforce any provisions against you in case of a dispute or possible eviction. But timely rental payments will keep you in the clear.