When renting an apartment or home, many things require you to work with your landlord—for example, paying rent each month, submitting maintenance requests, and taking care of emergency issues that arise within your rental. Unfortunately, if you are dealing with a bad landlord, it can make these things extremely difficult to do. That said, if you think you are experiencing landlord negligence, you’ve come to the right place. Below we’ll discuss tips for dealing with bad landlords and how to report them if substantial issues arise.
What Makes a Bad Landlord?
Not all landlords are dreadful, despite any horror stories you’ve heard from other renters. However, bad landlords are always out there and can make the renting process frustrating. Typically, the warning signs of poor management are pretty easy to pick up on. For example, ignoring maintenance requests, keeping inaccurate records, and tenant harassment are among the symptoms of a bad landlord. Below are some other characteristics that you may see when dealing with a bad landlord.
- Deceiving Rental Advertising
- Lease or Legal Violations
- Ignored Maintenance Requests
- Money Hungry
- Poor Reviews from Past Tenants
Deceiving Rental Advertising
When looking for a rental home or apartment, chances are you’ll come across an advertisement online that shows pictures of the property. From there, you typically set up an appointment with the landlord to view it. However, if the photos from the listing are outdated or altered to make the property look better than it does, it may be a sign that you’re working with a shady landlord.
Lease or Legal Violations
Your lease or rental agreement is critical in maintaining an honest landlord-tenant relationship. This legal contract outlines financial obligations and expectations for both parties and must be followed at all times. Most credible landlords create the lease so that it’s fair, easy to understand, and sustainable for long-term tenants. On the other hand, you may be dealing with a bad landlord if your lease agreement is non-existent or vaguely written. With a lease that is unclear, confusion and disputes are bound to happen.
Similarly, you may be dealing with a landlord that doesn’t follow their end of the lease agreement. For example, showing up at the rental unit without notice, violating tenant privacy, and failing to adhere to building codes are all legal violations that the tenant could report.
Ignored Maintenance Requests
One of the primary sources of tension between landlords and tenants is maintenance issues. Before moving into a rental, it’s essential to ask the landlord about the maintenance process. Learn how you should report maintenance issues, who is responsible for repairs, and ask how much time it will take for the repair to complete.
It’s normal to expect wear and tear in high turnover rental units. However, if you notice that more extensive repairs are needed or that the property is in overall poor condition right away, you may be dealing with landlord negligence.
All landlords have a goal to make money on their rental units. Therefore, most landlords will accept various payments like checks, money orders, or online payments to accommodate all the different payment methods. However, you should watch out for a landlord who only accepts cash. Cash payments are much less secure and could mean that your landlord is trying to avoid taxes. To keep you and your payments safe, avoid paying your rent in cash and stick with a more secure method.
Poor Reviews From Past Tenants
Reading online reviews from past tenants is one way prospective tenants can learn about the property and the landlord. Although it’s only one side of the story, several bad reviews about the landlord should be a red flag. This, along with other warning signs like poor maintenance or unresponsiveness, should be enough for you to stay away and continue your search.
When Should You Report Landlord Negligence?
Landlords have a lot of responsibilities, including maintaining a property that is in stable, habitable condition. If you have health or safety concerns within your rental, it could signify that your landlord is not doing their job. If you’ve appropriately communicated these concerns and the landlord fails to take care of them, you may need to report them to local agencies. Keep reading to identify some of the various reasons to report bad landlords.
- Mold- Mold in your living spaces can be detrimental to your health. Identify the warning signs of mold growth and report them to your landlord right away. If your landlord fails to respond promptly with an inspection, you may need to proceed with further action.
- Pest infestation- The tenant is responsible for reporting any type of pests or infestations within the rental home. However, it may not be the landlord’s job to take care of it. Look over your lease agreement to determine who is responsible for taking care of pests. If it’s the landlord’s responsibility and they fail to take care of it, you may need further action.
- Lead Exposure- Lead paint exposure, like mold, can be detrimental to your health. If you notice chipping or peeling paint, contact your landlord right away. If they fail to inspect the area, it may become a housing code violation.
- Structural Issues- Structural problems within your rental can quickly become a safety concern. A leaky roof or cracks in the foundation can cause severe damage to the home. If these issues aren’t taken care of promptly, it may cause parts of the house to deteriorate.
How to Report Landlord Negligence
Although nobody wants to report their landlord for negligence, it may be necessary to protect your health and safety. If you find yourself in this situation, there are a few ways you can go about it. Below are the steps to follow when reporting your landlord to local authorities.
- Send a Notice- Before reporting your landlord to authorities like the Health Department, you must send them written notice first. Your notice should describe any issues as well as how you’d like to proceed. Then, after you’ve given your landlord ample time to respond and they haven’t, you’ll want to move forward.
- Put Forward a Complaint- If you’ve given your landlord enough time to respond and take action to your reported issues properly and they haven’t, it’s time to take legal action. Local authority websites can lay out the requirements and help you with this process.
How to Improve the Relationship with Your Landlord
Maintaining a positive relationship with your landlord is not always easy. However, there are some ways that you can improve the situation. First, it’s essential to keep calm and avoid worsening the relationship through your actions. Alternatively, you should hold up your end of the agreement and take action if your landlord violates the lease or any laws. If you’re looking for tips to mend your relationship with your landlord, here are some suggestions.
- Communicate- Communication is critical in any relationship and is no different when dealing with your landlord. A proper landlord-tenant relationship may become problematic if you have an unwilling landlord. As a tenant, it’s important to note that all written or verbal communication to your landlord should be professional and void of any harassment. Similarly, you must make sure that you follow the lease terms carefully to keep yourself from any possible disputes.
- Make Payments On-time- Making your monthly rent payments on time is one of the easiest ways to stay on your landlord’s good side. Even the most excellent landlords can quickly become frustrated with constantly delayed payments. To maintain a positive and friendly relationship with your landlord, make timely payments, and reach out if you are unable to. The more notice you give your landlord, the better. Although they may get upset, proper communication can go a long way.
- Maintain a Clean Environment- While the landlord’s responsibility is to provide a safe and habitable property, it is the tenant’s job to keep it clean and report maintenance concerns. If you know that you’re working with a negligent landlord, make sure to report and document all maintenance requests properly. Similarly, it wouldn’t hurt to take a photo or video of any damages within the home to have your own documentation.
Where Can You Find a Good Landlord?
Finding a property with a reputable landlord is essential for a successful renting experience. Landlord negligence is not something to be taken lightly and should be reported if issues arise. That said, choose carefully when deciding who to rent from.
Luckily, there are resources out there to help you find an excellent property management team. At Bay Property Management Group, our dedicated property managers work diligently to create a positive rental experience for both tenants and owners. Keeping up to date with the latest technology, Bay Property Management Group provides tenants with the convenience of viewing documents online, submitting maintenance requests, and making online rent payments. So if you are looking for your next rental home, check out our newest rental listings online, or give us a call today.