10 Things That Will Make You a Nightmare Tenant
No one wakes up in the morning and sets out to become a bad tenant for his or her landlord. But sometimes, for new and seasoned renters alike, it can seem difficult to stay on your landlord’s good side.
The key to becoming a dream renter, and avoiding becoming a nightmare one, is often just a little extra knowledge and follow-through. To avoid giving your landlord or property manager a headache (and help ensure the stability of your living situation), simply avoid these top things nightmare tenants will often do.
1. Rarely pay rent on time
Paying rent on time is absolutely essential to be a good renter. Bad tenants won’t prioritize regular rent payments as a critical piece of the landlord-tenant relationship. Making on-time rent payments is one of the first and most important tasks for which a renter is responsible.
By paying late, not only are you risking fines and even eviction over time, but you’re likely placing a financial burden on your landlord, who uses the fees from your rent to cover important costs like maintenance and mortgage payments.
To take the hassle out of remembering to deliver or mail your rent, talk to your landlord about scheduling online payments. If you find yourself in a tough situation and are unable to pay rent due to sickness, work issues or other emergencies, talk to your landlord before your rent payment is due. Proper communication is key, and your landlord can’t help you if you aren’t honest about your situation.
2. Treat the property poorly
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Nightmare tenants will trash a property with no regard to the damage they cause – both to the property and their rental history. Growing up, your parents probably taught you to treat others’ belongings like you would your own. It’s still true, especially as a renter! Sure, a rental may not be your permanent home, but remember that your treatment of the property has lasting effects for your landlord and their future tenants.
Normal wear and tear is to be expected, but significant damage to a property you’re renting is less than ideal. Accidents happen, and if they do, be sure to notify your landlord right away so you can start to fix the problem together. This will not only ensure a good relationship with your landlord but will also ensure that you get your full security deposit back when you move.
3. Avoid reporting maintenance issues until they’re unbearable
You may think you’re doing your landlord a favor by not bothering them or you may think that the issue is small and not worth mentioning, but even a small leak can turn into a big and expensive problem down the road.
You’re probably not intentionally acting like a nightmare tenant in these situations, but a great tenant will notify the landlord anytime they notice a maintenance issue that needs attention. Some landlords even provide easy options for tenants to submit maintenance requests online, which can be easily tracked and monitored until the issue is resolved.
4. Act unreasonable or high maintenance
While a good landlord or property manager will value good communication from their tenants, a renter who constantly complains or requires special attention can quickly become a landlord’s worst nightmare.
In most cases, you’re probably not your landlord’s only tenant or only priority. Be courteous of this and try to resolve problems on your own to the best of your ability. Refer to your lease to review the terms and clarify what types of issues are your responsibility and which are the responsibility of your landlord.
If you know that the issue will require your landlord’s attention, be sure to notify them as soon as possible so they have time to work the maintenance into their schedule.
5. Host secret roommates (furry or human)
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Nightmare tenants will bring in new long-term guests, even if it technically breaks their lease. Remember, your lease agreement is designed to protect both the landlord and you as a tenant.
Whether your extra roommate is your significant other or your newest furry friend, having an uninvited guest stay permanently without your landlord's permission can cost you your security deposit – or your rental.
If you’re in a situation where you’re considering a new roommate, ask your landlord if they would allow a new person if they pass the same tenant screening you went through and would join the lease agreement.
6. Refuse to clean regularly
You don’t have to be a “neat freak” or obsess over the cleanliness of your rental daily, but you should consider it your home, after all. The more often you make a point to deep clean all the nooks and crannies of your rental, the more likely you are to get your full security deposit back.
If your unit is filled to the brim with old takeout containers, dirty dishes, and sticky surfaces, you might actually be causing larger property issues. Your landlord won’t thank you for layers of built-up grime and grease and you’re likely to be housing a few creepy-crawly roommates.
Make it a point to do daily and weekly cleaning chores, as well as a deep clean every now and then. You’ll make things easier on everyone involved.
7. Bounce from lease to lease
It will always be true that life circumstances change, and one of the major benefits of renting is the flexibility to move when your lease ends. However, a true dream tenant will stay at a property for a long time if they’re happy with the way things are going.
Managing tenant turnover is expensive and time consuming for a landlord. Moving fees and the effort involved in finding a new rental is expensive and time consuming for renters. In a perfect world, you would avoid being a nightmare tenant, so your landlord would want to incentivize you to stay longer. Renters who bounce from rental to rental and never stay in one place for very long (especially if they’re ending a lease early) could affect their future rental applications by showing a lack of commitment.
8. Ignore renter responsibilities
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While most maintenance responsibilities will probably fall on your landlord, tenants may be required to maintain some items such as appliances, lawn care, air filters or smoke detector batteries. Your maintenance responsibilities should be outlined in your lease agreement and define which party is responsible for which tasks.
Nightmare tenants constantly forget or outright ignore these usually simply tasks, and this can cause measurable damage to the property – not to mention damage to your relationship with your landlord.
9. Fudge on lease terms
Lease agreements are around for a reason, and when you sign your name you agree to all the terms outlined in the lease. If there are certain terms or rules that you’re unclear about or disagree with, bring them up with your landlord before you sign the lease.
A standard lease will prohibit any illegal activity or any behavior that threatens the safety of the community. They may also prohibit pets or obnoxious noise that will disturb other renters’ rights to a quiet environment.
Nightmare tenants have no regard for these terms, and often ignore the rules put in place. Lease violations can constitute legitimate grounds for eviction, which is expensive and stressful for everyone.
10. Refuse to get renters insurance
Renters insurance is surprisingly inexpensive and is well, well worth it. It not only protects your own valuables, but it also protects your landlord’s property should you damage the rental due to negligence. A great tenant will already have renter’s insurance so the landlord isn’t stuck with the bill due to a tenant being unable to cover the cost of damage to the property.
Your actions as a renter will mean the difference between a wonderful and easy rental experience, and a black mark on your rental history. Avoid these nightmare tenant traits and you will set yourself up for smooth sailing during this lease term and beyond.