Dealing With a Difficult Landlord

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Even if you have an amazing apartment with some of the best features and amenities, a troublesome landlord can make your life miserable. Most troubles can be easily solved by maintaining a good relationship with your landlord, but occasionally you’ll find yourself locked into a contract with someone who simply doesn’t respect your rights as a tenant.

What kinds of difficult landlords might you encounter? Here are a big three:

  • The Nosey Landlord – He or she pops in without any notice and constantly wants to do walk-throughs. Usually lives on the premises.
  • The Neglectful Landlord – He or she gets requests for repairs, but never actually fixes anything. Any concerns you raise will not be responded to without ahealthy dose of nagging.
  • The Cheap Landlord – He or she will find any excuse to take your security deposit and run with it, even if you’ve kept the property in immaculate condition.

If you’re really unlucky, you might have a landlord that’s a nice combo of all three rolled into one. Regardless of what kind you might have, this is a quick recipe for a nightmare living situation. The landlord-tenant relationship is already a bit stressful, because each party has the potential to feel cheated in some way or another. However, when one party is being neglectful or nosey, then it’s perfectly natural to get a little aggravated. Though you’re technically living on someone else’s property you should be respectful of your landlord’s rights – remember that you have rights, too. You have the right to stand up for yourself. So how can you go about handling your troublesome landlord?

First and foremost, plan ahead when you’re looking for an apartment. Check for any signs that you may experience conflict with your landlord down the road. When looking for an apartment, pay attention to the way your prospective landlord behaves during the walkthrough. If your personalities don’t seem to mesh, consider that a warning. If the current tenants are around during the walkthrough, note their demeanor. Do they seem prepared for this walkthrough? Do they seem to get along well with the landlord? If you see many signs that this landlord might be trouble later, consider looking for another place. Use your instincts!

Be sure to know your lease terms inside and out, as well as your tenant rights. Always ask for a copy of your lease, so you can look over the terms again when you’re unsure of something. This gives you something to reference before stirring up conflict with your landlord. After all, sometimes you may be wrong. In addition, many tenants do not know their rights or the local laws relevant to property ownership and renting. Some landlords take advantage of that fact. Don’t let yourself be a victim. Know your rights and privileges according to your contract. When you’re being mistreated in some way, make the landlord aware (politely, of course). This sets the boundaries of the relationship from the beginning.

Always make sure that the lines of communication between yourself and your landlord are open. If you have an issue with something your landlord is doing, tell them nicely. Explain why it’s bothering you and how you can both solve the issue. Most landlords will listen and take heed. Also, try to keep your interactions with them as pleasant as possible, even if you’re having a disagreement. Losing your temper or throwing a fit will only put more strain on the relationship and result in unneeded stress. When you find yourself getting upset, stop and take a deep breath. Always remember that your time with this landlord won’t be forever. It’s usually just a minor problem that will be resolved whenever you move out. Remain level-headed so your conversations can be more productive. Acknowledge where you can make some accommodations for them, as well.

If a strained landlord-tenant relationship escalates for some reason, be sure that you have some legal resources on standby. Ask your parents if you could discuss your situation with their lawyer. If you’re a college student, be sure to check out  your University’s website. One of the best kept secrets at many schools is that they offer cheap or free legal consultations to their students. The school legal counselors will likely be familiar with landlord-tenant conflicts, as this is one of the primary reasons any student would require legal services. These counselors are often a great resource to give you some feedback on the conflict and can help validate your concerns or give you some perspective. If neither of these are feasible options, then start to do some research on community legal services in the area.

Most landlord-tenant conflicts can be easily resolved with an fair and open-minded conversation. So take the time to look for a resolution, rather than a fight.

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