It’s not required to be best friends with your landlord or property manager – but in New Orleans where everyone seems to know each other, it wouldn’t be unusual. Whatever the case, landlords and tenants are still connected in legal ways, at the very least, and it’s important to know your rights and expectations as a tenant. Both the lessor and lessee have certain conditions of their agreement to uphold, and these are the main points.
Provide a secure environment – First and foremost, the landlord or property manager of the unit you’re leasing must ensure that the space is properly equipped and sound. Make sure apartment safety features like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are installed, the structure is stable, any necessary repairs are made, etc. All doors and windows should have working locks, and should open and close correctly. Make sure to inspect the space thoroughly when viewing the apartment before signing the lease so no surprises come up after you’ve already moved in.
Be attentive and responsive – As an extension of the first expectation of a landlord, whenever a problem arises in the safety or operations of your apartment, the landlord is responsible for addressing it in a timely fashion. Issues with the plumbing, power, framework or any other essential areas of your residence need to be attended to right away by the landlord or a repairman sent by the landlord. Report any negligent situations immediately.
Welcoming of everyone – Most cities have a fair housing action center that enforces the rights under the Fair Housing Act, the most prominent being that a landlord or property manager cannot turn away a potential tenant based on gender, race or disability. They do have the right, however, to run a background check, ask for references or request proof of income. If the landlord finds that any of those are violated, he or she has the right to deny the applicant.
Damage control – While a landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining a safe environment, the tenant has to do their part as well. Besides keeping their apartment clean and sanitary to live in, any damage inflicted by the tenant must be taken responsibility for. It’s one thing if any damage incurs that’s not the fault of the lessor, but anything that’s broken by the tenant cannot be held against the landlord and may be subject to the security deposit not being returned.
Be respectful and considerate – This may go without saying, but the tenant is responsible for preserving a peaceful environment and not disturbing their neighbors. Besides the fact that it’s just polite and considerate, it could also keep the tenant from being kicked out. Most leases include a noise ordinance section, and so the landlord has the right to suspend it if it’s violated in any way.
Obey lease – In addition to keeping up the safety and sanitary conditions of your apartment and keeping the noise down, the #1 obligation a lessee has to a lessor is to pay rent on time. This may seem like common knowledge, but it’s a problem landlords run into often with their tenants. So if you don’t take away anything else from this list, remember to always pay your rent by the time the lease states it’s due!
It’s important to thoroughly read and have an understanding of your lease agreement and have a copy to refer to if there is ever any confusion or conflicts. Otherwise, if you stick to these basic responsibilities, whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, not only will you have a civil relationship with one another, but it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.