We're not here to advocate being a suck-up. At least not all of the time. But with your landlord? Now that's a different story.
Sucking up -- or "building a good relationship," as we'll call it -- can have some serious perks. If your landlord likes you -- nay, even loves you -- you've got a good shot at renewing your lease at a fair rate, getting some slack if you're a tiny bit late on rent one month, bringing home that third dog, or maybe even getting him to paint your apartment.
It comes down to a simple mathematical equation: Extra affection from the landlord = extra comfortable renting life for you. So we asked experts for their top tips on making nice. Really nice. Like, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood nice.
1. Be better than the last guy
Odds are, your landlord has had a problem tenant in the past. You can't grill the landlord for details he doesn't want to share, but you can ask casually about the last tenant.
"How long were they here for?" and "Why did they leave?" might be enough to get an earful. Then, just do the opposite of whatever the last guy did. Say, for example, the last tenant was always late on rent. Try paying early!
"I wouldn't necessarily say the landlord would view you more favorably than a tenant who still makes the rent deadlines the day of -- unless it's an instance where the landlord is used to a tenant who usually paid late, so now considers a tenant who pays early to be a breath of fresh air," says Shaolaine Loving, a landlord and tenant attorney in Las Vegas.
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2. Ask for permission, not forgiveness
Before you change anything, get the landlord's approval. You already know that you'll need to run big changes such as painting the walls or removing the carpet by your landlord. But he'll also appreciate the heads up on small things such as hardware and light switch covers. Just don't get miffed if he says no.
"While you want to make your rental feel like home, you have to be respectful of the fact that your landlord might not share your tastes," says Clair Jones, director of community outreach at SafeWise.com, a home security and safety resource.
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3. Step up your security efforts
Break-ins aren't just terrifying for you; they're terrifying for your landlord, too. Beyond the property damage, landlords don't want their tenants feeling frightened or unsafe in their property.
Try asking your landlord if he offers security system options. Landlords will appreciate it if you show that you're a partner in keeping their property safe.
"Lock doors and windows, and avoid obvious hide-a-key options that attract burglars," Jones says.
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4. Don't rush them
If something's broken, give the landlord reasonable time to fix it. Our trick: Ask yourself how long it would take you to get the job done. If you couldn't reasonably find a plumber on a Sunday afternoon, your landlord probably can't either. And if the thing that is broken doesn't really need to be fixed ASAP, it might be OK to wait it out.
"Try not to make a mountain out of a molehill," Loving says. "For instance, if your AC unit is broken, but you're not using it anyway in the winter, don't urge the landlord to try to fix it before his lawful time is up to fix it."
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5. Pitch in every once in a while
No, you're not obligated to fix anything -- it's the landlord's job to handle maintenance and repairs.
But if there's a way you can help, you'll score major points by trying.
When I first moved into my place, I realized the glass shelf in my refrigerator was missing. I told the landlord, who was out of town but offered to hire someone to go to the hardware store, buy the glass, come to my apartment, and install it. Realizing that would cost way more than it should, I offered to do it myself, for a $10 deduction from the rent.
It didn't cost me anything, didn't take long, and saved the landlord a ton of headache. And she loved me for it.
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6. Make nice with the neighbors
If you're living in a multiple-unit dwelling, try to stay on your neighbors' good side. You don't want them to go to your landlord about an issue with you.
While the landlord may not be angry at you, he probably won't be thrilled to have to play mediator.
If it does happen, try to suck it up and change your ways if you can.
"If someone happens to complain at least once, be respectful and try not to repeat the offending activity unless the neighbor is truly being unreasonable, such as complaining about ordinary noises like vacuuming during the daytime," Loving says.
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7. Keep it clean -- inside and out
This one's just a given. You've heard you should treat your rental like you own it, but it's time to reinforce how important that is. If your landlord sees you taking care of his investment, he'll love you for it.
Landlords maintain the right to inspect the property from time to time, but they might also be giving a once-over to the outside -- including the way you keep your car. So keep porch areas clean, don't let newspapers and mail stack up, and pick up inside and out on a regular basis.