How To Talk to Your Landlord (and Get What You Want)

published May 10, 2015
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(Image credit: Monica Wang)

The landlord v. tenant relationship can be a tricky one to master; there are so many minefields to step around when dealing with your home and his property. But going into any discussion with the right knowledge and attitude can significantly improve your chances of request success. Here’s where to start.

Be a good tenant

The number one secret to getting extra-good service from your landlord? Be the kind of tenant your landlord wants to keep around. That means being polite, paying your rent on time and following the conditions of your lease. A good tenant is worth her weight in gold and most landlords will go out of their way to make them happy.

Be clear and specific

Which sentence is more likely to get results “The carpet in my bedroom is really worn and gross! Yuck!” or 2) “I’d love to have my bedroom carpet replaced; could we discuss that possibility please?” You get the idea; a polite, reasonable request will go a lot farther than a complaint every time.

(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

Put it in writing

Following the procedure to lodge requests or complaints is key. If you don’t go through the proper channels you can’t expect your needs to be met. If, however, you’re still having trouble getting results, it’s important to keep a record of when and how you’ve tried to resolve the issue. That will tell your landlord that you are taking the request seriously and aren’t just going to go away. Try something like this: “Hi, I’ve tried to contact you three times via email and phone between March 7 and April 10 and haven’t yet heard back regarding my request to fix my leaky faucet. I need to get this matter resolved.”

Look out for his bottom line too

Remember, being a landlord is a business so he will naturally need to keep an eye on profit but that doesn’t mean there are not other things of value in your agreement. If you’re facing a rent increase, try negotiating it down using other elements like a longer lease term (you can point out that having a good tenant like you locked in for longer will mean he won’t have the unit sitting empty unnecessarily).

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Split the difference

If you want improvements in your rental and are willing to do the work yourself, many landlords are open to footing the bill for the materials or docking your rent for your work. You get a nicer apartment and she gets lasting updates and a happy tenant. Win win!

Tell us, how do you navigate the landscape with your landlord?