Confrontations shape us as people: they are our experiences and our future coping mechanisms. In the moment there are several ways that we react; we might panic, get frustrated, lose our cool, make rash decisions, or generally not deal with the issue as efficiently as we would in hindsight. Dealing with a complicated landlord is just one of many confrontations that seem totally unfair, however, tenants sometimes respond equally unfairly, adding heat to the fire and smoke to the situation. There are several things to remember about your landlord, yourself, and where you stand that can help to alleviate a lot of disturbances and lead to a calmer living arrangement.
Put yourself in their shoes
If your landlord sets harsh terms and conditions, remember that this is not there just to make your life difficult. Rather, this if often a matter of having learned lessons the hard way; past tenants may have damaged the property beyond what their bond covers, been dishonest about how many people are living in the property, not paid rent on time, or contributed to other hassles. It pays to be patient, see the situation from the landlord’s point of view and, most importantly, seek to demonstrate your honest, mature personality.
Winning a landlord’s trust can seem impossible; how do you prove your good character at the first meeting? The little things go a long way—whether it is the landlord or an agent that you meet, make sure you use their name, shake their hand, and act grateful that they are giving you the chance to stay in their glorious walled palace. If they give you the cold shoulder, try not to let it rile you—it usually indicates someone who has dealt with difficult people in the past—and remember that a smile from you goes a long way.
Understand your lease
Be realistic with the conditions. Avoid signing a lease if you do not think you can stick to the terms or pay rent on time, or if you think the terms are simply unreasonable. Make sure you understand exactly what is expected of you and exactly what the landlord’s responsibilities are as it is certainly a two-way street. Just as there is always some leniency in their expectations of you, there must be some in your expectations of them.
If there is a dispute and it goes to the tribunal or even to court, it is important to remember that in particular situations the court will typically side with either the landlord or the tenant. This is not because they have an alliance to either side, it is simply because from an outsider’s point of view, if the tenant’s behaviour has been less than reasonable it can look silly and feeble in court. Landlords are experienced in dealing with tenants so make sure you can back up your position well.
It pays to be smart about your precarious position on the lease and take steps to ensure you can back your claims up. Document EVERYTHING. Take photos of the agreement, your declaration, condition report, and any further correspondence between you be it emails, phone calls, texts, letters, or personal appearances and inspections. Be sure to document, date, and promptly report old and future imperfections on the property, too. If anything is ever disputed, you can easily prove exactly when an incident occurred, how you dealt with it, how the landlord dealt with it, and suddenly you have a much better chance of resolving any dispute before it turns into a court battle.
Fulfil your end of the bargain
Pay your rent on time. This is the easiest and simplest trick in the book. Landlords want their money when they ask for it. Paying your rent on time gives your landlord trust in you. If this is achieved then you are far less likely to have them fret about your lifestyle or create strict rules around how you reside in their property.
In short, if you are an agreeable tenant you can expect an agreeable landlord. You set the stage for the type of relationship you wish to have. Take responsibility for your actions and try not to set the stage badly for future tenants.
There are of course some exceptions when you may just encounter a particularly nasty landlord; if you have covered all your bases with the steps outlined above then you cannot fail to hold your own against them.