Landlording & Rental Properties

The Top 14 Tips Landlords Wish Their Tenants Knew

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses, Business Management, Personal Development, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary
208 Articles Written

Sometimes the landlord/tenant relationship can be a difficult one. But it does not have to be that way, and it certainly does not have to start out that way. As landlords, we try to get this relationship off to a good start and keep it that way by taking care of our properties and tenant concerns.

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But some tenants, perhaps due to past experiences, prepare for the worst and thus approach the relationship ready for a fight. Maybe they have never had a decent landlord. Maybe some just do not know how to act. Whatever the reason, here are 14 tips from our 12 years as landlords to tenants everywhere for a decent landlord/tenant relationship.

The Top 14 Tips Landlords Wish Their Tenants Knew

1. Pay your bills on time.

Seems fairly obvious, I know, but many tenants believe they can pay every other bill before they pay the rent. Want to stay on our good side? Please pay your rent on time.

2. Always try to be polite.

I will, too. Being polite and calm really does go a long way. You would not like it if I left you snarky or angry screaming messages on your voicemail. I know sometimes issues can seem to linger on and on, but we really are doing our best to get things resolved.

3. Listen to our instructions.

We tell you things for a reason. If we show you how to trip a breaker or turn a gas valve off, listen. It may just save your butt. If we tell you there will be a hard freeze tonight and to please let your faucet drip, don’t call us the next day and complain that your pipes have frozen and you need to do laundry. I can’t control the weather, so you will just have to wait until it warms up.

4. Help us.

We try to take care of our properties, but we can’t be everywhere all the time. Is there something we need to know about? Tell us. Is something broken? Let us know. Help us by being our eyes and ears.

Related: How to Find a Tenant in Any Market: A Comprehensive Guide

5. Tell the truth.

Did you or your kid flush something down the toilet and stop it up? Then tell us the truth so we can get the problem resolved as quickly as possible. After a dozen years in this business, we can almost always determine the culprit anyway.

6. Please just leave me a message.

If we do not answer your call, do not hang up and call over and over again. There are times we simply cannot take your call. How do you think we are going to feel when we finally answer you after you have called five times in a row? It had better be a matter of life or death.

7. Understand that we have a lot going on.

Sometimes other tenant’s issues may take priority. We know about your issue, and we will get to it just as soon as we can. We might for example need to make sure everyone has heat before taking care of your dripping bathroom sink.

8. If you get in a bind, talk to us.

Communication is key! Tell us what is going on. Did you lose your job? Has your roommate gone off the deep end? We have been there before, and we know what it is like. But if you do not talk to us, there is no way we can help you. Please do not put your head in the sand and hope whatever problem you are having will go away. It will not, and things will only get worse.

9. Treat my property and the people who do work for me with respect.

You would not believe how many people are just plain rude to the people we send over to try and fix their problems. Plus, how do you think we are going to react if we see that your place is a mess or that you are causing damage? Disrespecting our properties or our help is a sure way to create an adversarial relationship.

10. Work with me.

We know you have a busy schedule. So do we, and trust us, we want your issue resolved as quickly as possible too because we have a dozen or so more to deal with. It all goes much easier if you work with us on times and arrangements. You might have to put up your dog for a day or allow us into your apartment on your day off. We hate to disturb you, but we will be done and out of your hair just as soon as we can.

11. Trust me.

We are not going to steal your stuff or try and stiff you. Yes, we know some landlords might, but not us. If we say we need to get into your home, it is for a legitimate reason.


Related: Here is the Best Indicator of Tenant Quality… Hands Down.

12. Follow the rules.

They are there for a reason. They were explained to you when you moved in, and you agreed to follow them. It just makes life harder for all of us if you choose to ignore them. If you could not live with the rules, then you should not have moved in.

13. Respect your neighbors.

Would you appreciate a loud party the night before you need to make a major presentation at work or before your final exams? No, you would not. Remember that you live in an apartment building, and you have neighbors — sometimes very close neighbors. Think about how your actions might affect them. I’m not saying do not have any fun; just try to be considerate.

14. Hide your weed.

Just please do this. It is technically against your lease, and you really never know when there will be an emergency and who will need to access your place.

A lot of the above is just common courtesy and common sense. But for those few — and you know who you are — please review and follow the above and let’s make your stay with us as pleasant as possible.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help landlords who have found BiggerPockets more recently.]

Landlords: Do you agree with my tips? What would you add to my list? 

Leave a comment below, and let’s talk!

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in and manages rental properties in Memphis, TN and is a past president and vice-president of the local REIA group, the Memphis Investors Group.

    Charles Williams Investor from Portsmouth, Virginia
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Kevin, Love your articles. I might print this out and just hand directly to my tenants and go over with them as we are signing the lease agreements. LOL!! I love #14!! Good work. Thanks, Charlie- VA
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks for the kind words Charles! Kevin
    Michael Seeker Investor from Louisville and Memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I love #14! That tells me you must be in C-D type rentals. In the A-B properties the tenants are pretty good about hiding the weed and accompanying paraphernalia – lol
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Michael, Not always 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin
    Jeff Rabinowitz Investor/Landlord from Farmington Hills, Michigan
    Replied over 4 years ago
    When you leave a message describe the issue. Don’t just tell me to call you back. For some of you I probably already know what the issue is–the rent is going to be late…again. I am not amused but don’t need to speak with you. If you pay before the Demand for Possession expires you will avoid court and can stay. If not, we will be parting company. If your message is that the pipes froze my next call will be to the plumber. He probably has had several similar calls today and I can get you higher up on the response list if I call him first. I can address the issue much more quickly if you tell me what it is in your message.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Jeff, Very good points spoken from experience! Thanks for sharing, Kevin
    Troy Fisher Specialist from Kirkland, WA
    Replied over 4 years ago
    #14 – No kidding, but I guess it’s different in a couple of state now.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Troy, Yep, there seems to be a trend, but in Tennessee it is still illegal, so please put it away! Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin
    Ivan Paxton from Denver, Colorado
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Marijuana is still illegal in Federal law. My lease agreement specifically states that you must not break Federal, State or local laws because I don’t want pot heads as tenants. That said, if they use occasionally and don’t make a fuss about it how would I know. If they are problem tenants, finding any drug while I’m legitimately in their apartment (clearing the drain again) will lead to their swift exit.
    Marcia Maynard Investor from Vancouver, Washington
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Medical and recreational use of MJ is legal in our state, but smoking it anywhere on our properties would violate our rental agreement. Refer to #12 Follow the Rules.
    Marcia Maynard Investor from Vancouver, Washington
    Replied over 4 years ago
    #1 Pay Your Bills On Time and Prioritize Right. Pay your rent first, before paying your other bills, before fixing your car’s carburetor, before paying for your child’s ninth pair of shoes. If you don’t have a roof over your head the other needs and wants won’t much matter.
    Ayodeji Kuponiyi Investor from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Awesome awesome article. I’ll print this out and share this with future tenants. Great points on each 14 parts.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Thanks Ayodeji! I appreciate your kind words. Kevin
    Kenneth Rieder from Kenrnersville, North Carolina
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Great article. I am dealing with a tenant that I told on day one to let me know up front about issues. I went driving by a week ago and asked how long the trim was hanging off the garage door? What else will I find after they leave!?!?! I’m going to follow Ayodeji’s idea and share these with my future tenants!
    Stephie Smith
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    I work part-time at a property management firm, and I can’t even tell you how often I wish tenants knew these things. I spoke to a woman the other day who had rent due on the 3rd, but waiting until yesterday to pay. That’s two weeks late, and she was upset about receiving several late fees! Not only will that hurt your reputation with management, but it can also cause issues when you’re looking for a new place that does rental verification checks. Thanks for sharing, hopefully others will find this article!
    Janne Zaccagnino Investor from Arlington, Tennessee
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Once again, I read a great article on BP and discover it’s written by Kevin Perk!
    Casey Murray Real Estate Agent from San Diego, CA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Seems a few of these issues can be mitigated by screening tenants properly. By screening for tenants with good employment history, credit history and tenant history, you can vet tenants effectively. But always expect the unexpected. Great article, Kevin.
    Chris Field Investor from Milford, Connecticut
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Lmao good luck with that!
    Andrew McIntyre from Riverton, Wyoming
    Replied over 2 years ago
    I literally laughed out loud on number 14! awsome article!
    Tresea Burrell
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great article, this advice may also help some of you. We do a walk through inspection each month, we change out the air filters, look underneath each bathroom vanity & kitchen sink for leaks, we look for any damages to walls, floors, doors , windows , ceilings, ect. Hope this helps.
    marianne Finkel
    Replied over 1 year ago
    re; #11, -‘trust me’- we usually never enter the premises when the tenant is not there… even when the tenant volunteers us to go in, we refuse. that way we avoid a potential accusation. also about the phone calls, recently we have started limiting any phone communication. only texting and emails. that way we have less to worry about ‘hearsay’. any thoughts? thanks