Renter Relationships: Tips for Getting Along Better With Your Roommate, Landlord & Neighbors

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If you rent, you're going to have to negotiate the occasional tricky relationship every now and then. From landlords, to roommates to neighbors, here are some tips on how to make those relationships go a little more smoothly and potentially cut out conflict before it starts.

Your roommates

  • Before you move in:
    First, make sure you're even compatible before you both put names on a lease. Ask the important questions so there are no surprises. Especially if you think you know them already. Perhaps consider reading the horror stories in this post: Run, Don't Walk: Worst Roommate Ever Stories, to decide if you're sure about even getting a roommate at all. And just for balance: Living with Roommates (Just for the Fun of It).

  • While you're living together:
    Write up and print out a set of house rules so there's never confusion on what each person needs for a comfortable home environment. Always try and approach your roommate in person with a problem, instead of writing notes that could be misinterpreted. If you'd like to have guests or a gathering, ask for your roommate's opinion. Consideration goes a long way.

  • If things should prove to not to work out:
    Learn what the rules about subletting and what the fees are to break your lease before you even enter into one just in case the roommate situation is untenable. And our advice if things get bad? Don't be passive aggressive. Don't "get even." Try to communicate calmly about issues. Or just plain move out. It's not worth the stress. Here's some more help:

Your neighbors

You don't have to be best friends with your neighbors to enjoy living in your neighborhood (or apartment building), but you should try and be courteous. Follow neighborhood quiet hour rules. Let folks know when you'll be throwing parties or having extra cars parked on the street. And set boundaries with them early, so you can avoid any potential awkward conversations to be had in the future. And if you do want to be friendlier to neighbors, we've got suggestions:

Your landlord

  • Start off on the right foot:
    I know plenty of people who "fudge" the details — about their pets, their pay — to get into places, but I vote for always being truthful so nothing comes back to bite you later. Consider following the rules, even if they don't make sense and mean you can't paint your walls what you want. Some folks do design how they want to anyway, but that mean losing favor with your landlord (and you never know when you might need something).
  • Report quickly and competently:
    Don't let something that needs to be repaired go unrepaired and become worse, damaging or expensive for the landlord to repair. Report needed repairs quickly in writing, and make follow-ups that are polite.
  • Pay on time:
    Some people have a casual relationship with paying their rent on time, but you'd be surprised how just being reliable with your rent payments can have a really positive effect on your landlord's impression on you. Consider creating an automatic online payment if that option is available to you, or just set a repeating calendar reminder so you don't miss the day.

Your turn! What are your tips for these types of rental relationships? And are we leaving any important rental relationships out?

(Image credits: Adrienne Breaux)

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Adrienne photographs beautiful homes in and around her home base of Austin, Texas. She's a contributor to UPPERCASE Magazine and spends all her free time exploring small town Texas. She watches a lot of Star Trek.

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