While not all landlords are created equal, and some would never win any citizen-of-the-year contest, contrary to popular belief, landlords can be pleasant to deal with — and can even save you money.
A great landlord does the little niceties and goes that extra mile to make life easier for their tenants, maybe even leaving said tenants with a warm and fuzzy feeling and a renewed outlook on life. Whether you’re renting in Arlington, VA, or Seattle, WA, don’t ignore a good thing if you’ve got it. Here are eight signs your landlord secretly has your back.
1. They help you with the application process
Before you’re even a tenant, you can spot someone who could very well be a great landlord: one who helps you apply. A good landlord “makes the application and onboarding process a less daunting endeavor through active communication and deliberate transparency,” says Lucas Hall, founder of Landlordology, an online resource for landlords.
2. They provide transition information for utilities … and more
Moving can be a stressful process, especially when you’re relocating to an unfamiliar area. If your landlord is a local, and a great landlord, they’ll let you know the scoop. New York, NY, real estate agent Emile L’Eplattenier offers a welcome package for new tenants. “I include numbers for electric, heat, cable, internet service, good local movers, options for renters insurance, emergency numbers, the superintendent’s phone number, as well as general information about the building and neighborhood.”
3. They provide bathroom essentials on move-in day
Great landlords think of the little things that can mean a lot when you need them. When nature calls, do you know where you packed your toilet paper? Or if you even packed any? “I like to provide four items, which create a simple but thoughtful $10 welcome gift,” says Hall. “One individually wrapped roll of toilet paper, one travel-size bar of soap, one roll of paper towels, and a shower liner (just the liner, not the curtain).”
4. They forgive the late fee … once
The fee for paying your rent late, which has to be in the lease to be valid, serves to discourage tenants from paying rent any old time during the month. But it’s easy to forget to pay it or find yourself short on funds once in a while, so a great landlord might waive the late fee — one time. Don’t blame your landlord or talk smack about them if they enforce the late fee the next time, though. “If you show mercy a second time, they will think you are a sucker, and you will have issues collecting rent going forward,” says Hall.
5. They fix things right away
One of the biggest complaints tenants have about landlords is that they are negligent about fixing problems around the rental. Landlords need to fix emergency situations immediately and other problems, such as a plumbing issue, as soon as possible. “I made sure that every request was answered within 24 hours,” says Denise Supplee, co-founder of SparkRental and a former landlord and property manager. “And if it couldn’t, I would have office staff contact the tenant.”
6. They offer an “out”
When you sign a year’s lease, you can count on staying there for your lease term — you’re protected from the landlord deciding they want you out early. And just as you can count on the lease to protect you, so can the landlord, who counts on rental income to pay their own bills. But what if something happens that you didn’t plan for, like a job transfer or, perish the thought, a job loss? Legally, the landlord can hold you responsible for the lease term until they find a replacement tenant, but a great landlord lets you break the lease with no penalty if you have a legitimate reason — not if you just feel like you want a change. “We offer easy-out clauses for our tenants if they decide to buy a home,” says Collin Bray, an agent in Boston, MA.
7. They offer great perks for re-upping a lease
If you’re ready to renew your lease without shopping for other options, your landlord probably already has your back. You enjoy great customer service and maintain a good relationship. However, offering perks after renewing is a landlord’s way of saying thank you. “Our incentive is to do amazing things and have great customer service,” says Hannah Boyd, manager at the Greenway at Fisher Park apartments in Greensboro, NC. “That way, the resident wants to stay no matter what the incentive is to renew.” Boyd offers full apartment and carpet cleaning once residents renew their lease. The cleaning makes residents “feel like the apartment is fresh again” and benefits landlords by allowing them to give the space a good, yearly cleaning to maintain its condition for future renters.
8. They offer online rent payments
Back in the day, landlords required tenants to mail in a check or (even more annoying) a money order to pay rent. Either that or the landlord would come by, knocking on your door, to collect the money — probably at awkward times. Really great landlords make the payment process a breeze. “Giving your renters the option to pay rent online shows them that you want to make renting easy,” says Lucy Burningham of Cozy.co. Third-party services like Cozy allow rent payments to be “deposited directly into [a landlord’s] bank account, safely and securely.” Several online payment services are available in addition to Cozy, such as RentPayment and ClearNow. If your landlord doesn’t offer this option, bring it up with them — it will probably save them time too!