Savvy Tenant – How to Make Your New Landlord Love You


Photo by shho

Ask for a copy of the lease when you get your application so that your out-of-state fiance can have a look at it before you proceed with the application.

Be prompt about getting the application and fees to your potential landlord, who in turn works to get the application expedited so you have an answer before you go back to your home state in four days to get married.

Work to get the lease finalized as soon as possible.  This turns out to include working with cantakerous fax machines, requesting a revised lease with names spelled correctly so that the notary public will sign off on the lease.  Then working with more cantakerous fax machines and getting your initialed, signed and notorized lease faxed back for our signature, also done with a notary since you’re not here to witness the signature.

Finally, after a great deal of persistence and patience.  It’s done!

Photo by humusak2

Photo by humusak2

When power company unexpectedly turns off the electricity, you work with the landlord to get your account with the power company established and the power turned on to facilitate the make-ready process.  From out of state. Assure the landlord that if it becomes necessary you can stay in base housing for a week or so until the house is ready.

Mail the deposit check and the first month’s rent check, written separately as requested in the lease, and a note that says in effect, thanks for working with us and we look forward to working with you.

…….Fast forward one week……During which the landlord works after his full time job to get the place spit-shined beyond what most landlords will do.  Why?  He prides himself on his properties–all of them.  It’s why he has happy, long-term tenants who take care of their homes.  Also he is concerned about your new bride and the fact that she’s never seen the place first hand.  He wants her to be blown away when she does see it.  In short, he cares.  And he is excited to have you both as tenants in your first home together.  He even contemplates getting a bow to put on the lawn mower that the previous tenant left behind as a “Welcome & Congratulations” gift.  He makes sure the lawn is mowed and all that is left for you to do is move in and get settled.

Photo by Robert Proksa

Photo by Robert Proksa

How to Make Your Landlord Change His Mind

Show up with no communication before hand and request the keys on a Saturday.  Landlord, who has just come back from your house to eat lunch, is there with them promptly.

There are just a few cleaning items in the house and the burners covers from the top of the stove are being power washed to remove the stuff that wouldn’t come off with a basic cleaning.  Landlord acknowledges that he is there to clean the carpeted stairs.  His floor machine doesn’t fit on the stairs, so he’s removing the few stains by hand.  He’s also installing some outlet covers and phone jacks that were removed by the previous tenant.  Otherwise the place is spotless, down to the fact that he has disassembled the refrigerator shelves so he can get the crumbs out that have lodged between the glass and the shelving.

Let your landlord know that your wife isn’t here yet.  She’ll be out of state until she finds a “good” store in the area to transfer to, part of the nation-wide department store franchise that apparently has good and bad stores–a gazillion of them–throughout the metro area.

Tell your landlord that your wife doesn’t think it is fair to ask them to pay for the first week’s rent if the place is not ready to move into. (WHAT exactly would keep you from moving in?)

Tell your landlord that your wife wants to split the cost of a new air conditioning unit for the house.  They are willing to pony up a couple hundred dollars for this. (For a brand new$1,500 – $2,000 unit?  Ah, the bliss of ignorance. And by the way, WHAT FOR? The old one works just fine.) 

Try to have a conversation with your landlord and your wife on the phone at the same time.  Send her pictures as you tour the house and look for every little thing you might possibly complain about, but only finding one light bulb burned out in a ceiling fan upstairs. Ask if the landlord is going to be sure and fix that.


It seems people are becoming disenchanted.  Not just you, either.

Ask the landlord about the clause in the lease that says after 30 days bugs that show up are your problem.  Has there been any problem with bugs in the past?

When the landlord says the only bug problem that has ever surfaced there was a termite issue three years ago and not one one has been seen since, relay that to your wife. Then tell your landlord she is a “bug person” wants to know what kind of termites they were.

“The kind that eat wood….” is the reply. “Listen, if you two are having second thoughts, that’s okay.  I will put the sign back up in the yard and the house has never been unoccupied since we’ve owned it.  It should rent pretty quickly.”

“What does that cost us?”

“Rent until the new people move in.  We get the sign up now and someone qualifies next week and moves in by th 15th, then you pay for two weeks.  If for some strange reason it doesn’t rent, then you’re on the hook until it does.”

“Oh, she’ll never go for that…. She’s my backbone.”

Great. (By the way, your buddy with you, he’s now rolling his eyes.)

Take the keys but don’t move in.

Call three days later and say you need an e-mail address.  When the landlord asks why you need an e-mail address, hedge.  Him-haw.  Say you have questions.  When the landlord asks why you can’t just ask questions like you have in the past instead of using e-mail, which the old-school landlord doesn’t use (his wife is the tech person in the family), tell the landlord that, for example, you’re worried about being responsible for termites if they show up.

“I can’t hold you responsible for termites! That isn’t something you bring in or attract.  That clause is there for roaches, bedbugs, ants and the like, not termites.  Do you still need the e-mail address?”

“It’s not like we haven’t gotten ripped off there,” you reply. 

“Where have you gotten ripped off?”

Ut oh.

“Uh, in Oklahoma.  It’s just a more efficient way to communicate.”

“As opposed to picking up the phone or stopping by to talk.” (Landlord and tenant are in walking distance of each other.)


Then after you get the e-mail address, why don’t you call at 9:30 pm after the landlord has gone to bed so he can be up at 5:30 in the morning to go to work.  Thankfully for everyone involved, landlord sleeps through the cell phone ringing.


So here’s what I want to say:

GROW UP! If you have decided you can’t afford don’t want the house, just say so.  But don’t expect someone else to take the fallout from your change of heart mind.

  • You had the lease for at least a week before you signed it.
  • You read and initialed each page and signed the last one.  Twice.
  • You took the time to find a notary in whose presence to do the above and then
  • There was all the effort to get it faxed so that we would take the sign down and stop showing the place to anyone else.

There was plenty of time for you to change your mind without paying  a penalty BEFORE YOU SIGNED A LEGALLY-BINDING AGREEMENT OF YOUR OWN FREE WILL. And mailed us two checks.

So don’t be looking for some reason to pin your wanting to back out of the agreement you signed on us so that you don’t have to pay the consequences for changing your mind as if you were somehow tricked into signing a lease.

And honey, if you think you have a landlord who hasn’t been through this before and who is going to roll over at the first hint of a “legal issue”, boy howdy, I am telling you straight up.  You had best think again before you make another very bad decision.

Photo by linusb4

Photo by linusb4

Okay, now maybe I can sleep with that off my chest.

This kind of thing makes me angry and then it makes me sad.  It is so unfair for a person who has never met us to work from a position that we’re trying somehow to rip her, and her backbone-less husband, off. How a relationship can do a 180 in such a short period of time never ceases to amaze me, although I guess I should be used to it by now.  It makes it hard to get excited and go an extra mile for the next tenant that comes along, which is sad.  It’s not their fault that the previous folks had issues.

But then this is a business.  Maybe it’s time to stop being personal.  Which is also sad.  Remember the good old days when a mailman could stop and have a cup of coffee with his neighbor and chat a bit before continuing his work?  I don’t but I wish I could….


One response to “Savvy Tenant – How to Make Your New Landlord Love You

  1. Pingback: Savvy Tenant – When To Be Spock-Like | Carolyn Dekat

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