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How to Have a Good Relationship with Your Landlord

Your relationship with your landlord in New York will be, at best, complicated.  Because there is such a high demand for housing in New York, your landlord might be less than thrilled to do all the work to keep you as a happy tenant.  After all, they probably can rent the apartment or house to someone else in a month. Does this mean your landlord is scum? Of course not, but there are several things you can do as a tenant to protect yourself and keep a good working relationship with your landlord or management company.

Be Kind and Respectful

A good relationship starts with you.  A lot of what you’ll need to get done will be at the discretion of your landlord.  Things will be so much easier for you if you have a good relationship. I have tried to maintain a good relationship with my current landlord, so when our fridge was beginning to show signs of issues, but it still worked, we were able to get it replaced immediately.  Keeping an open dialogue about things is a great way to make sure things stay on track. If you’re having repairs done it’s a good idea to keep the management company updated on how their contractors are doing. This way if something goes wrong they can work it out themselves.

If you’re dealing with a large management company there’s a good chance the person you’re always calling to ask for repairs, painting, maintenance, etc., is not in charge of what happens to your apartment.  Even if you’re frustrated calling the office, make sure to take a minute to not take it out on the wrong person. A lot of management companies understaff their building so one plumber or super has to deal with way more than they can handle.  Even if it takes someone a day to get to fix your sink, try to be understanding of their schedule. However, don’t let bad service become the norm. Make a note of how long it takes to get things fixed and if time after time it keeps taking them way longer than you think is acceptable, check with your neighbors and see if they’re experience similar waiting times.  The more information you have the better!

Read Your Lease

 You’ve seen 20 apartments in two weeks.  You’re beyond exhausted and you don’t even really remember which apartment you’re renting.  You’re finally ready to pay and they put down a 30-page lease in front of you. Your whole being may be screaming at you to just sign the damn thing, but resist that urge!  Always take the extra hour to read your new lease thoroughly. In fact, ask for your own copy so you can mark and and highlight it.

 There are two reasons to read your lease.  The first being to protect yourself from the management company finding an excuse to kick you out, or break your lease prematurely.  The second is to make sure that you’re taking full advantage of your tenant rights. To protect yourself make sure you read their policies on smoking, pets, and what their obligation is when the lease is over.  Many apartments and houses are not under any obligation to renew your lease at the end of your term so make sure to be perfectly clear on what’s going to happen at the end of your lease. Some landlords with less than scrupulous might use any excuse to break your lease, especially if you have a rent controlled apartment so read that lease carefully!

 Your lease might also entitle you to things that you didn’t know about.  Most apartments come with bars on the window, but if you want to use your AC unit you’ll need those taken in an out.  Some landlords might encourage you to just leave one window without bars doing the winter when you put your AC unit away so they don’t have to do the extra work, but they’re most likely obligated to do that.  There also may be a certain level of cleanliness that they’re obligated to maintain in the public areas like the lobby or stairwells. If you see trash, rodents, or roaches in your common areas there’s a good chance your management company is breaking their lease!

 Regardless of how thorough your lease is, make sure you read it carefully!  It could mean the difference between being kicked out and shutting down your landlord with a quick email.

Talk to your neighbors

 One of your greatest resources as a tenant are your neighbors.  Before you even move into a new place, knock on your neighbor’s doors and get the scoop.  They’ll give you a good idea of what to expect when you move in. They’ll let you know what’s great about your new apartment and what is less than ideal.  They can also give you the lowdown on how to get stuff done in your apartment. Maybe contacting your management company every time you hear a leak isn’t the best way to get it fixed.  Maybe all you need is the super’s number and you can bypass all the bureaucratic BS. Maybe your neighbors will invite you in for some nice cookies, who knows! You’ll never know if you don’t meet your neighbors.

 If you’re not super close to your neighbors, I’d recommend using sites like to get some information on your building.  Also do a quick google search of the address and see if anyone has said anything on twitter.  It’s also a good idea to call the local police precinct.

 Also, if shit hits the fan, your neighbors are a great way to make sure that you’re not being taken advantage of.  If there is a pattern of negligence or discrimination, then you should call 311 and make sure that you aren’t being bullied.  Even if you’re a good tenant, there are often a dozen other people waiting in the wings to swoop in and take your apartment.

Keep a paper trail

 I’ve saved the best for last.  This is so, so important and really is your best way to protect yourself from negligence and bullying business practices.  If your management company is being negligent you’ll want to have evidence to prove this. Using emails and texts give you a concrete way to show how many times you’ve asked for something and how long it takes to get done.  If you ever need to go to court to defend yourself, you’ll need all the evidence you can get. Most people only start collecting evidence long after things become acrimonious. Takes notes, keep consistent records, and use emails to follow up on requests.  This can be the difference between a judge ruling in your favor or not.

Be Heard at Go Home NY

Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

Be Heard at Go Home NY

Be heard! Leave your apartment, condo, and coop building reviews at Go Home NY! Know a building's managers are awful? Have the inside line on a perfect building? Anything in between? Express your voice and be heard. Leave a review at Go Home NY.

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