Dear Future Landlord, Here’s What We Need from You
When you’re desperately hunting for a new home, sometimes as military renters, you think the hardest part of the process is finding an available property that suits your needs. But, in reality, working with a landlord throughout the lease term can also be problematic if both party’s expectations aren’t fairly set early in the process.
Wouldn’t it be nice to write a potential landlord a note about your future relationship and what to expect? You know—address some elephant-in-the-room stereotypes that could damage the partnership. A letter is also a proactive tool for clearly laying out what you need from your landlord so you can be the best tenant.
Even if you don’t officially write a letter to your landlord, you can use this example to share with them what you’re thinking about, including communication styles and accountability.
Dear Future Landlord,
You haven’t met us yet, but I bet you have a few thoughts about what renting to a military family is like.
I bet you’ve heard that we are:
- Timely with payments
- Neat and orderly
- Respectful of the house and the landlord-tenant relationship
But you might have heard negative clichés as well.
- A large family with several children that destroys rental homes
- Probably leaving earlier than our rental agreement states
- Dealing with a deployment, so household chores will suffer
Well, yes, these are right—these descriptions are sometimes true. They’re not absolutely true every time, but they are certainly situations to consider if you’re screening rental applicants. But the truth is that every military renter is different. It's up to you to find renters you have a connection with and can trust.
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On the other hand, surely you know there are stereotypes about military landlords, too, right?
How about these:
- Many are slumlords because they can get away with disrepair in the house because, after all, military families live there for short periods of time and are used to substandard base housing.
- Most landlords are out to make as much money as possible and hate to make repairs or updates to their properties.
- Out of town landlords are the worst because they are difficult to contact and slow on the upkeep requests.
You wouldn’t want us to have preconceived notions about how you do business just because other landlords aren’t on the up and up.
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10 Topics Renters Want Landlords to Address
Now that we’ve identified the problems with half-truths, unfounded judgments, and clichés, let's discuss some of the items renters are concerned with and hope you’ll address. As a landlord, this list should help you prepare the property, create advertising, and get ready to answer potential renters’ questions truthfully.
1) We need to know this rental house is an active project in your life, an investment, not just a mortgage payment for your current home. Seasonal check-ins to inspect things like sump pumps, fireplaces, and pest control are welcomed.
2) Please have a thorough move-in process. We want a walk-through checklist that is intense. A five-minute glance through the house does no one any good because neither party will meet expectations.
3) Know what a military clause is because we might want to add one to the lease. Also, understand that a military clause is different from the SCRA.
4) Guidance and clear parameters for the house's upkeep will only help. Should we take steps to mitigate the potential for frozen pipes? How often do we change the furnace filter?
5) A binder with manuals for appliances small and large with notes on how to reset the water heater and other similar tasks is very helpful. Adding the names of go-to vendors for repairs is a huge help.
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6) A detailed description of how maintenance requests are handled is appreciated. Although 48 hours without the mostly ornamental gas fireplace working is no big deal, 24 hours without A/C in the dead of summer is pretty brutal.
7) Review with us what your landlord’s home insurance does or does not cover if there is a disaster. We know our possessions are not covered, as that’s what renters insurance is for, but what about our stay at a hotel while repairs are underway?
8) We understand if unforeseen circumstances come up. We really do, as that is what military life is all about, but please try to put yourself in a position where your tenants are unaffected by your personal life and finances. We need a plumber ASAP, even if your budget doesn’t allow it.
9) A courtesy call or email to discuss concerns regarding an upcoming blizzard or flooding potential in the spring (or any other out-of-the-ordinary circumstance) will keep everybody on the right track. Don’t just hope for the best and wait to get repair calls from us.
10) If you wouldn’t want to deal with low water pressure, leaking faucets, or other nuisances in your own home, please don’t expect us to. Just because we are renters doesn’t mean we are okay with a lower quality of life.
Photo from Canva
The landlord/tenant relationship doesn’t have to be a struggle or unhappy. Providing each other with clear expectations and holding up our respective ends of the bargain ensures the whole stay benefits everyone.
In the spirit of open communication and starting on the right foot, this letter and renters’ most requested topics address what military renters think about when looking for a new home. But we all know there are two sides to every rental story. Don't miss this blog post directed to tenants from landlords. The reverse perspective is enlightening for everyone in the rental house business.
MilitaryByOwner has multiple resources for renters and landlords to take advantage of before signing the next lease. And don't miss our free resource below, created especially for landlords!