7 Things Every Tenant Wants Their Landlord To Know

by | BiggerPockets.com

Just for fun, I polled some of my friends about what they, as tenants, would love to say to their landlord’s face. I told them to be brash and forthright.

Here are their replies … 7 things your tenants would love to tell you:

1. Just because I’m a day late on my rent doesn’t mean I’m not going to pay it. Asking politely is one thing. Turning into a ruthless mob like character if your rent check is a day late is another thing entirely. Calm the heck down … you’ll get your money!

2. Telling me that you’ll have someone over soon to fix the A/C is nice, but actually sending someone over would be better. Tenants know all too well that when the landlord says they’ll send someone over, that means “I’ll get to it when I get to it.”

3. It would be great if you answered the phone. It’s amazing how if the rent check is a moment late you can’t get away from your landlord, but if you actually need something from them, you can never get a hold of them.

4. Even though I live in your property I am still a human being. Please don’t treat me like a child, and please don’t begin our interaction with the assumption that I’m going to trash the place. I haven’t done anything wrong (yet.)

5. Those outlandish rules included in the lease were ridiculous. I can only use the shower during certain times of the day? I’m not allowed to light candles inside the home? Yeah … those rules are ridiculous.

6. My pets aren’t going to destroy your home. I have two small harmless cats that, I promise, will not piss all over your carpet or scratch up your trim.

7. It’s not my responsibility to do maintenance on your home. I’m calling you because the faucet is leaking. That’s not because I can’t fix it. It’s because I pay rent so that I don’t have to.


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7 Things I want My Tenants to Know

Okay, fair enough. But just for fun, here’s my reply to each of those points, one by one: 7 things that I, as a landlord, want my tenants to know:

1. Dude, I don’t get to just blow your rent check on champagne and strippers. If I’m hassling you about getting me the rent check, it’s probably because I have to pay the mortgage, the tax man, the insurance, the contractors, and more. Those guys all want their money now, and they won’t take “my tenant hasn’t paid me yet” as an excuse.

Besides which, we have an agreement: I provide you with housing, and you pay rent on the 1st. I’ve held up my end. So where’s the check?

2. Yes, sometime’s there is a delay in getting a contractor over to your house to fix that broken thing.  But it’s not due to a lack of trying on my part. If you can recommend someone who’s actually good, affordable and reliable, let me know. Those people are near-mythical.

3. If your landlord / property manager isn’t doing as good of a job in being responsive to your needs as he is in collecting rent, then you need a better landlord. Our job is to communicate with you and to answer the phone when you call.

That said, your role as a tenant is to understand what requests are reasonable … and what aren’t. Fixing a broken dishwasher is reasonable. Replacing all the (perfectly fine) windows with “newer” windows is not.

4. If I thought you were going to trash the house, I wouldn’t have rented it to you. So relax. I obviously trust you to take reasonable care of this house. That’s why I let you live there.

5. If I don’t specifically outlaw something within the lease, you can always claim that there’s “no rule against it.” So yes, I have a clause saying that you can’t operate a BBQ grill inside of the house. It should be common sense, I know. But you’d be surprised.

6. Pets cause more damage than you might realize. They cause excess wear-and-tear on the carpets. They leave dander in the carpet, drapes and vents, which needs to be professionally cleaned in case the next tenants have a pet allergy. That’s why we charge a pet deposit.

7. I definitely don’t want you to do maintenance on the house — so it sounds like we’re in agreement on that point! That said, PLEASE call me when something is amiss. Don’t wait until a tiny problem grows into an emergency before you call me and say, “Hey, the water line from the freezer has been leaking slowly for months, but yesterday it got really bad ….”


What are your thoughts? What do you think your tenants want to tell you? And what would you like to tell them?
Photo: Laura Berardi

About Author

Paula Pant

Paula Pant quit her 9-to-5 job, invested in 7 rental units, and traveled to 32 countries. Her blog, Afford Anything, shares how to shatter limits, build wealth and maximize life. (At AffordAnything.com, she shares EXACT numbers from all her rental investments -- costs, cash flow, cap rate; it's all published for the world to read.) Afford Anything is a gathering spot for a tribe dedicated to ditching the cubicle. Read her blog, and join the revolution.


  1. Kevin Perk


    Great article. Sometimes us landlords need to remember what it was like to be a tenant and tenants need to understand just how difficult a job being a landlord can be.

    We get more comments on our house rules. Things like, “you really have to tell people that?” “Yes, we really have to tell people not to park their motorcycle inside. etc, etc.”

    As for pets, don’t forget about the fleas left after they move and tend to show up after the new tenant has moved in.

    Again, great article,


  2. Fun post. My daily bread. Btw, I don’t care whether I offend my tenant with my detailed expectations straight from the start. I set the rules, I have never had evictions, missed payments etc. Set the rules, it’s your business. Then go to that beach, if you really like the beach in the first place;)

  3. Robert Steele on

    As a Landlord I think most of those tenant gripes are valid. Especially about the late rent.

    I am surprised by how many landlord’s beat their chest and state that if their tenant is 3 days late with the rent then out comes the notice to vacate and threat of eviction.

    If I don’t get the rent by the 1st I call or email them a polite reminder.

    If I don’t get the rent by the 3rd I politely remind them again and ask when I can expect it. If the tenant is being communicative I can work with them. I ask them what day I can expect it and hold them to it. If the date is unreasonable I explain as much and get a reasonable commitment out of them. If they break that commitment then out come the big guns.

  4. Jean Tolliver on

    I recently moved after giving 2 wks notice, instead of 30 day notice. My landlord is very, very mad and said “You should have talked to me, if you were so unhappy! You never TOLD ME it bothered you!”
    What he is referring to is the shower wall he ripped out over 2 months prior, so plumbers could replace 50 year old valve that froze, making shower inoperable. He made a 5×1 ft open wall to attic, insulation, dirt…, leaving a complete dusty, dirty mess over my ENTIRE apartment. he said he’d come back the next day, “help me” clean up, and make shower useable. He reluctantly and after my having to ask, came over with vinyl shower curtain, next day, which he duct taped over 5foot x 1 ft wide opening. After plumbers did their job, landlord asked me to give him two weeks, time to observe for leaks, before he had someone out to re-tile shower. I agreed to allow that. He said i was to go ahead and use shower, and duct taped a plastic shower curtain over opening. At 2 weeks, I text him, asked when tile guys were scheduled.. He asked: “are u certain it’s not leaking?” I said yes. “Ok, I’ll get them out there.”
    Another few weeks passed, I asked repair status, again. Same response. 2 more weeks went by, I again asked and his tile guy came by to look at job. He said it would be a few weeks before he could get to job. That time passed and nothing happened. So, I gave notice and moved. He now say’s he was “afraid to re-tile. You wouldn’t be happy. All you did was complain. Shower was never Right.” Yes, I did have expectation of a working shower, when I rented the place. For the entire 5 months I was there, the problems were never completed. Landlord stated vinyl shower curtain, duct taped over hole, provided necessary waterproofing and functioning shower! He felt that was a long term remedy. I had paint chips, dust, old, friable attic insulation blowing through my A/C unit, daily. I was afraid, due to age of building, that stuff blowing around could contain lead based paint dust, asbestos. When I woke each morning, I could barely breathe! I ended up at urgent care for respiratory issues. Once moved, my breathing returned to normal. The tile guy also stated further shower wall demolition would be necessary, for him to re-tile properly. I could not handle that huge mess again, physically, breathing wise.
    Prior to all shower issues, I did complain, ask for pest control, as I had 5 sticky traps full of roaches in a 48 hr period. Landlord said I shouldn’t stress over such little things, let everything bother me! Because my roach traps were in attached garage, not house, it wasn’t HIS problem anyway! He said any such issues, I would have to ‘deal with.’ He said he was upset that I complained, he was fixing my shower, that was all. Now, because I was there only 5 months, he is going to re-paint all walls I had pictures on, charge me full cost, because, although I meticulously patched and painted with the matching paint he provided, it is slightly lighter in those spots. And, even though his workers and he made mess on new carpet, he’s going to charge me for cleaning. Lastly, he’s going to deduct the additional 2 weeks rent I didn’t pay when I gave notice. I had City code enforcement come out, prior to moving. They wrote him up for Code violations of: shower, debris coming out of ductwork, and open access in hall closet to attic and outside. Now, he has to complete work, or face fines. Yes, he’s mad at me for that, too! We were ‘friends’ and neighbors for 7 yrs. I feel he really abused that ‘friendship.’ Do I have recourse to get deposit back? I paid last months rent, pet and security deposits, totaling $2,300.00. I left place SPOTLESS, other than lighter appearing paint on patches. I did not feel I had “working” shower, but used on days I didn’t go to gym, because he asked me to, to make sure no leaks! Or so he claimed! I wanted to send pics, but don’t know how! As a homeowner for 30 yrs, prior, is this typical, legal landlord behavior?
    Thanks for your time and anticipated responses!
    Jean-(disillusioned ex-renter who is now ‘in escrow’ on my new home with creative tips learned here!-Yay!)

    • @Jean what were the terms of your lease?
      Was it a Month to Month TAW agreement or a fixed term (12 month usually) lease?
      If you broke a lease then they probably can keep the last months rent and the deposit just to recover lost rent if they don’t rent it out in the following 6 weeks.
      If however if it is month to month that would be a harder sell for lost rent.
      I’d say you would owe the 2 weeks if you only gave 2 weeks and were required to give 30 days, but the “repairs” seem excessive unless it was stated in your lease that you would pay for professionally clean carpets upon move out (Not uncommon clause in my experience) but the painting sounds like a something you could fight.

      No idea where you are and how friendly the court would be to a tenant vs. a landlord.
      Sounds like a jacka$$ that gives us good landlords a bad name…

      • Jean Tolliver on

        Thanks for your response. It was a month to month rental. A City Code Enforcement Officer came out to place I rented, 2 months after shower wall had been torn out. A few days after I gave notice, landlord received letter from Code enforcement, stating landlord had 12 days to repair shower, or face fines for code violations pertaining to shower and two other code violations. Landlord asked me to reconsider moving as he was now ‘forced’ to do repairs.
        I declined to stay. i knew my future as his tenant, receiving timely repairs, seemed unlikely.
        There was no clause for carpet cleaning in my contract.
        I had a long conversation with my former landlord a few days ago. He said “as my friend” he never expected me to complain about anything, just take care of “MY ISSUES!” at my expense! Not ‘bother him.’ And, he had “no intention of doing any repairs,” to “teach you a lesson, not to call or complain in the future! i obviously wasn’t going to DO anything!”
        Again, I was shocked by his words! He went on to state they went “over budget, remodeling everything, but bathroom! You should have appreciated what you had!”
        I told him it was “his investment”, not mine!
        He knew I was going thru a divorce, my assets were frozen until divorce was finalized. I had just sold my home, through divorce, (and not much gain in this market!) I was downsized from a 4,300 sq ft home, guest house, on 1 acre, to this 1,200 sq ft condo w/one car garage. I was worn out from such a major move and not really not wanting to move again until divorce was final & I had money to buy new home.

        Well, maybe it was karma…???!!!! But….
        My husband, (of 31 years), and I have reconciled. This ordeal brought us back together, as I needed a place to stay. So, overall, something GREAT came out of it, for me!
        I moved July 31st. To date, landlord has made no attempt to do repairs or rent unit. Code enforcement is waiting to do inspection, he cannot re-rent until repairs are completed. Am I liable to pay full rent, for 30 days, if I gave only 15 day notice, on a place I haven’t been able to shower in for 2-1/2 months?
        Yes, he gives landlords a very bad reputation and is a real jerk! I learned a lot about “my friend” throughout this ordeal! Wow! He’d probably be an even worse enemy! Guess I’ll find out!

        • Hey Jean,

          Not a relationship blog so I’ll just say I’m glad you guys worked things out and I hope everything goes great for you!

          As far as your former landlord is concerned it sounds like he should be thankful that you just left and didn’t stop paying rent altogether while filing complaints for the condition of the apartment. Assuming what you described is even close to what happened that is totally unreasonable.
          I’m a landlord and make a distinction between frivolous requests, legitimate small ones that might not getting taken care of super fast and major issues that need to be taken care of. Yours sounds like something that needed to be addressed MUCH faster than it was.

          Personally I think you are SOL on the rent if you didn’t give the required notice.
          However keeping anything past 30 days and possible unreasonable charges towards the deposit could be different.

          This is America, you can sue anybody over anything with or without cause.
          You seem to have at least some cause so how much time and effort (and possibly money) are you willing to put into maybe getting back a portion of your deposit and maybe some damages?
          Unless you are in a very tenant friendly place that has statues for high damages it probably isn’t worth the effort.

  5. Stephanie Dupuis on

    Another issue about LL initiating notices for late rent immediately is the law. If a tenant fails to pay their rent, and the LL failed to post their 3-day, 5-day (or whatever is required notice in their state) immediately, the LL may lose their rights to collect payment. At a minimum, the LL will have very little sympathy from a judge in court. So, this is not only an issue of trading services (tenant pays the rent on time so the LL can take care of the property the tenant lives in, and take care of it correctly) – but there is a legal issue here. The LL is required to follow the law. (So is the tenant. And the contract says rent is due on the 1st – not the 2nd or….)

  6. Jerry Kaidor on

    I’ve been on both sides. My parents rented all my childhood. I rented – and my wife and I rented – until we bought our first house. I still remember how we were renting a little apartment for $300/mo ( this was LONG time ago ) and got a letter in the mail raising our rent to $360. A 20% increase with one letter! It was explained to me that the landlord had overextended himself and needed more money. Well, that wasn’t my fault! We both got angry about it and started saving for a house.
    Now I own two apartment complexes, an 8-unit building, and a condo – 81 units in all – and see the landlord side very clearly indeed.
    A few lessons we took back from our own tenant days:
    * We *never* raise anyone’s rent by more than 5%.
    * We have a 888 number that tenants can call. They call that #, they get the owner on the other end of the line. Best investment I ever made. Heads have rolled because of information gotten from tenants.

    Let’s talk about dogs – I hate’em. Especially puppies. Puppies have accidents. I have had to tear out and replace more carpet because of dogs…. When they do a #2 on the carpet, it’s disgusting – but no real problem. Shampoo gets it right out. But a #1…..a #1 is a BIG problem. It soaks through the carpet and then mold starts to grow on it, deep down in the carpet. Then I don’t care how much shampooing and deodorizing you do, THAT CARPET IS TOAST. Maybe you could pull the carpet out, shampoo the UNDERSIDE and save it… but once you’ve pulled the carpet out, you might as well replace it. Oh, and don’t forget to bleach the floorboards. Even if they don’t pee on the carpet, when the tenant moves out, your staff will have to vacuum it multiple times to get rid of the hair.

    Carpet has gotten very expensive over the past few years. It was explained to me that it’s basically made of petroleum. We have started doing a lot of ceramic tile. It costs twice to three times as much as carpet, but you only have to do it once. When they bust a tile, you just replace that one tile. In my big complex, we’re standardizing on ceramic tile everywhere except the bedrooms. People like to step on a carpet when they get up in the morning. And you can almost do a bedroom with remnants.

    The ceramic tile gives a very nice look to a vacant apartment. Since it’s the same floor covering in the kitchen, living room, and hallway, you open the door, and the apartment looks really big.

    A lady called me this morning – “I’m looking for an apartment, and I have three dogs”. I refused her right then, right there.

  7. Bernard Hall on

    Great article. The thing that really kills me about #1 is the fact that when a tenant cannot pay their rent on time, they should at least have the common courtesy to call the landlord to inform them. I mean, if you were going to be late for work, the first thing you do is call and let them know, right? Landlords can be reasonable. They understand that sometimes (not very often) you can hit a snag in your finances. And you and your landlord know that your rent is due every month on the same day. As a tenant, it is your responsibility to plan to meet this obligation each month. If you don’t, then your landlord is going to confront you about this obligation. The only reason they are doing this is because they do not want you to get in the habit of not paying your rent on time. Because that road could lead to an eviction. To curb this problem with a couple of our tenants, we had to institute daily late fee charges that would reach a maximum monthly charge if they did not pay their rent on time. After we did that…surprise, surprise…the rent got paid on time. And we never had to ask the tenant(s) about their rent payment any longer.

  8. Great post Paula. Only a landlord could have possibly written this article. And for all those folks that will start screaming “my pet would never do that…”, I can only say that can and they will. Petws have destroyed just about anything chewable in my rentals at one time or another.

    I have pets, and I love my pets. But these guys aren’t miniature humans. They are pets and pets do things. That’s a fact.


  9. #7 of 7 Things I want My Tenants to Know. This actually happened to me that the fridge water line was dripping for so long I had to rip out cabinets and replace part of the floor due to water damage. The tenants never told me until the floor was buckling. I learned two things: 1) make it very clear the tenant is responsible for damages if problems are not reported and 2) I had better respond to repairs quickly. Not just to prevent damage but to hopefully show them respect and get it in return with timely reporting of issues.

    I think it is more profitable to go the extra mile as a land lord and keep vacancies down.

  10. I especially identify with the one that says, “hey we are not buying champagne with the rent money”, I am always amazed that tenants think that I won’t notice that the rent isnt paid or paid on time, the mortgage company notices. I DK when I was a tenant I fixed up (painted, cleaned) it is rare to find a tenant these days regardless of socioeconomic status who doesnt have a sense of entitement.

  11. Well said on both sides of the fence. My wife and I are renting out a spare bedroom to a friend for a year and we had a very thorough meeting with a lease and what our expectations are. Greg, you are right on, we all deserve respect. Screen properly on the front end and then take the time to build a solid rapport with your customer.

  12. Fortunately, I’ve had pretty good landlords:) Except when I need repairs. My landlord would not call me back when our washer stopped working– until we had a flood in our bedroom and no more towels to soak up the mess.

  13. Christine M on

    I’d like to add one more to the “what tenants want landlords to know” list: PLEASE, if you come in to do repairs, change filters, etc, PLEASE PLEASE return my belongings where you found them if it was necessary to move anything!! Also, clean up your mess, I’m not your mother!

    My parents were landlords of an apartment bldng when I was younger and I remember them making efforts not to disturb their tenants area and to leave it the way they found it if it was necessary to move things around.

  14. Being an owner of a rental property for nearly a decade now, I’ve been on both sides of this, often jagged fence. Of all the issues mentioned, the SINGLE biggest obstacle I run into is at final inspection. Living in humid Florida, at least half of my bathrooms are left with mold of some kind. Best case, it’s a quick swab. Worst, I need to call in a remediator to carefully disinfect the tiles/crevices. Most of the time, it eats into at least a quarter of the tennant’s deposit (which I hate to do and actually I end up eating most of the cost). My advice: if you don’t want to clean it yourself, you’ll save at least 50% if you hire a maid for a couple hours to help ya out. Anyhow, loved the article…thanks for the read!

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