Dear Future Tenant, Here's What I Need from You

Wed, Mar 02, 2016 @ 08:03 AM Dawn M. Smith Renting/Buying a Home

Dear Future Tenants,

I appreciate your input and I think your suggestions highlight legitimate points of stress in a landlord/tenant relationship.

In the spirit of fairness and open communication, I would like to present to you my list of points of concern, with the hope we can come together for an easygoing and respectful relationship for the next few years. 

  1. I have likely lived in this home, and perhaps will again. I expect that you will treat it as if you own this house while you make it your home.
  2. Please understand, your security deposit does not entitle you to excessively damage the property. If damages go beyond our agreed-upon deposit amount, you are still liable for the remainder of the cost of cleanup and repair.
  3. I know pets are part of your family; ours are, too. But they cannot contribute to destruction without reimbursement. New sod that is torn to shreds, damage to doors, and urine odors are costly to remedy and I will ask you to pay up.
  4. Speaking of pets...don’t hide unauthorized animals. We will know if you try to sneak one in. Your kids will talk about that pet anaconda at school, and my friends in the neighborhood will tell me.
  5. Before signing the lease, be familiar with the terms within. If we agree to have lawn care done by you, do it. The same goes for gutters and other small upkeep chores.
  6. Always ask before painting. Aesthetics are so personal. We might have likeminded vision or we might not. If not, perhaps we can add terms to the lease stating you will return your preferred paint color to a neutral hue before departing.
  7. I want to hear about problems that might seem small. At that moment, they might be. But in time, they can potentially be a huge problem. Especially issues related to leaks, drainage, or anything else associated with water. Pest infestation can get out of control quickly, too.
  8. I appreciate any effort you make to help me out, such as speaking directly with a vendor’s scheduler to assure a good time for you after I have made the initial call for repairs.
  9. Your outrageous demands for us to come change light bulbs or install your preferred color of wood flooring will likely be denied, but they will supply me with a good chuckle for the day. This is a business, after all.
  10. Heed this advice: call it Karma or the theory of “what goes around comes around,” but if you trash my house and skip town, it will come back to haunt you. Some way or another.

Hopefully, you won’t know if my landlord circumstances were accidental in nature or purely an entrepreneurial venture, but in any case, know this. Responsible homeownership is not an easy gig, especially long distance. The truth is that most landlords are real, live human beings and have good intentions and want happy tenants.

Going forward, though, here is something to think about. If you ask crazy questions before you actually sign the lease, we will certainly think twice about having you live there. Some examples include:

“How do you feel about exotic pets?”

“Can my mother-in-law live in a tiny house in the backyard?”

“Do you need a bonfire permit in this neighborhood?”

“Is the basement sound proof?”

Just show us your best selves with paperwork in order, and I am sure it will all work out fine.

MilitaryByOwner is a hub of information for both landlords and renters. Resource articles, blog posts, and ebooks are easily searched and provide stacks of advice and knowledge. There is also access to lease examples and other legal documents.

Many thanks to Jen McDonald and Karina Gafford of MBO for experienced landlord insight and hilarious but maddening examples of bad tenant behavior.

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