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Hey, Tenants! How Do You Find A Good Landlord?

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Author: Chris Wechner

You found the perfect place. It's in a nice neighborhood, and the neighbors seem friendly. The schools are good. It's close to people you know and near places you want to go.

Then you move into it, and the first day is okay.

The next day, you get a call. It's the landlord, just wanting to check on you. Okay, that's nice. The next day, the landlord calls again.

One day, you come home, and you find that the landlord let himself into your home to start working on things. Not only that, he begins yelling at you for interrupting him, but he doesn't call you by name. He hasn't taken time to learn that.

Obviously, this is not a good landlord.

How do you find a good one?

Searching for a Good Landlord

When you are looking at classified ads for places to rent, most of these look the same. Therefore, you have to do your "landlord checking" when you talk to him or her on the phone or see the landlord in person.

When you call this person, does he or she answer the phone? If not, does this person return your call promptly? If not, it might be a sign of things to come. If this person is unreliable now when they want to find a tenant (and should, therefore, be on his or her best behavior), is there a very good chance this person will be reliable later when you need help?

Likely, the landlord will schedule a meeting at the property you want to rent. See if this landlord shows on time. Just like returning your call, if the landlord is late and does not offer an apology, this, too, can be a sign of bad things to come.

During your meeting, try to learn about the person who might become your landlord. Try to learn things about him or her. Find what is important. Ask how many other properties he or she owns. Try to find what is important to this person. Essentially, try to make it easy for your possible landlord to talk to you.

Not only is this a kind thing to do, but you are more likely to learn whether this person is really nice or just acting nicely until he or she gets you to sign the lease. Ask about some of this person's better tenants. Also ask about some of his or her worst ones. That should get things moving, and you get an idea what is important to this person. More importantly, you begin to get a better understanding of whether you want to live in a way that conforms to his or her rules.

Checking References

A smart landlord will want you to provide references. There is nothing wrong with this, as you will be living in his or her property, that is only fair.

However, you should be able to ask for references, also. If he or she is a legitimate business person, then they should want to provide you with them.

Also, you can check the landlord's history:

• Has the city cited the landlord for code violations?

• Have other tenants sued the landlord?

• Is the landlord known by tenants' unions, consumer services organizations, or other regulatory bodies?

• Ask other tenants about the landlord (if you are checking a multi-unit building).

o Does the landlord return calls promptly?

o How quickly does the landlord handle repairs—minor or major?

o Does the landlord respect your privacy?

o Is the landlord approachable?

Final Disclaimer: By being a "good" landlord, I do not mean that you should expect this person to accept late rent payments, allow you to break a lease whimsically, tolerate needless calls to him or her, or graciously accept damage to his or her property.

A good landlord provides a good place to rent that is structurally safe. A good landlord respects your privacy yet handles legitimate repair issues within a reasonable time period. Finally, a good landlord makes you feel welcome to contact him or her with legitimate—not harassing—questions.

About the author: To learn more contact Section 8 Pros (248) 757-0926 or go to Section 8 Pros helps landlords and tenants meet each other's needs, focusing primarily on the Detroit city and surrounding areas. They help out of town investors keep their properties productive.

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