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Laws of the Land: Quick Tips on Dealing with Landlords


There are few things as stressful, annoying, and inconvenient as home repair. Whether it’s a busted pipe, leaky roof, or storm-damaged fence, fixing issues like these are always unwelcome additions to the myriad of other daily problems. To make matters worse, it is usually necessary to go through a landlord in order to resolve these problems.

Find out now: Is it better to buy or rent?

There are those with awesome landlords, who have to do little more than send a text in order to get something handled, and they should thank their lucky stars. More often, you hear about the landlords-from-hell who are either negligent, impossible to reach, grouchy, stingy, or some terrible combination of the above. Not to worry, because SmartAsset rounded up some tips on how to effectively manage your landlord.

Don’t Blow Your Stack

This may seem obvious, but before we get into specifics about how to deal with your landlord, we have to make sure you know how to handle yourself.
Even if your air conditioning unit took a summer vacation in the middle of a sweaty July and your landlord’s cell is conveniently off, don’t let your temper overheat. Getting angry will only make your landlord want to avoid you, and will give him or her an excuse to not fix that air conditioner. It is common knowledge that keeping a level head will also keep you in control of potentially contentious situations. Revert to whatever calms you down (deep breathing, counting, or perhaps a stiff drink) for a few minutes prior to contacting your landlord.

Pay Attention to Procedure

Your landlord is probably a busy guy or gal. Chances are, he or she manages more than one property, and if those properties are apartments, has a bunch of tenants who are always in need of a leak fixed or a new kitchen sink. Your landlord likely has a preferred method of being reached, something that should be detailed in the lease or rental agreement. If you want your landlord to respect your rights as a renter, you should play by their rules and ensure you are contacting them in the manner they wish to be reached. This will make both of you happier in the long run; you will effectively communicate your needs and your landlord will feel comfortable knowing that you respect their wishes (and read the agreement and/or lease).

Know Your Rights

Brush up on your state’s laws and rules for renters. Being able to tactfully let your landlord know that you are aware of your rights-and their responsibilities- is a powerful tool; no landlord wants a lawsuit with their tenant. While the majority of us would rather avoid lawyers, courtrooms, and all the associated paperwork, these steps may become necessary, so make sure you know how to proceed as well as seek out the professional assistance you’ll need.

Practices, procedures, and rights vary throughout the country, but there are commonalities that all renters should know about. Once again, don’t just skim your lease or agreement, but really read it and ask questions if you are unsure about anything. Make sure you keep a copy of it for reference. Knowledge is power (cliché, but true!), and your landlord will have a hard time ignoring you when he or she knows that you can and will hold them legally accountable.

Keep at it

Sending email after email, playing phone tag, or trying to reply to a long (maybe even error-filled) text can be grueling for a renter. Especially when you’re busy with a million other things, trying to get in touch with a plumber or electrician via your landlord can be super annoying. This is where we remember rule number one, and keep calm. If you don’t come off as though the issue is of utmost importance to you, your landlord may not take the issue seriously, leaving you in the lurch.

Be persistent with your landlord, and let them know that you require attention as soon as possible. Persistence is especially important when dealing with maintenance workers who may disregard you because you do not pay their check; if they ignore you despite your best efforts, relay that information to your landlord. You deserve attention (again, know your rights), and it is the workers’ and your landlord’s job to provide that. Stick by your guns, renters.

Most of us feel that the less you have to deal with your landlord, the better. But inevitably, you will have a broken (fill in the blank) and need some assistance. Keep the above in mind and you’ll get that new air conditioning unit before you can say, “ice cold beer.” Do you have any stories about landlords or tips on how to manage them? Let us know in the comments.