How to be a good tenant

Written by Douglas Ross in Renting on March 6, 2017

How to be a good tenant

You’ve made it inside the house and the ink is dry on your lease contract. The couch looks fantastic in that spot and, actually, IKEA isn’t that bad, hey? But do you think you’re going to be a good tenant? What even is a good tenant and why try to be one? Well, summing it up in one word: karma. Being a good tenant isn’t just about making your landlord happy, but helping yourself out at the same time.

A good tenant is a smart tenant

Before you put pen to paper, read that contract. If you have a solicitor, have them read it but it is important you know the fundamentals as a good tenant understands their obligations. More than anything, get your head around the following:

  1. The lease length. 6 months, 12 months, 2 years? What happens after the lease ends? Will it roll on to a month-by-month arrangement? Your lifestyle and goals may influence what sort of lease length you want.
  2. The lease type. Is it a joint tenancy agreement, where multiple people act as a single tenant? If not this, is it an individual contract, where you can act as an individual tenant with the landlord. Make sure everyone’s name is stated on the agreement correctly.
  3. The financials. Wrap your head around the bond and rental payments. What will it mean on a weekly basis? Check how you are to pay rent and on what date.
  4. Repairs. If you request and agree on changes before you move in (a new dishwasher, perhaps), check these are listed in the contract.

Do as Mary Poppins would do

As that umbrella-wielding obsessive compulsive affectionately said, “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and SNAP! The job’s a game! And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake! A lark! A spree! A –“ ok enough. But it is in everyone’s interests to keep your home in the same condition it was in when you entered into the lease agreement. It’s all-too-easy to forget about that bond until moving day.

Did anyone write that down?

Being a good tenant means getting everything in writing and this is for your benefit more than anyone else. This is especially the case if you are dealing directly with a landlord rather than through a property manager. There are more occasions if you deal directly with a landlord where agreements will be verbal. Try to push for the major agreements, such as repairs and financial obligations, to be put in writing.

Pay your rent before you pay your Netflix account

A happy property manager is a happy landlord. Don’t make either one of them chase you down for late rental payments. If you do not pay rent in time, you are automatically ‘in arrears’. If you are in arrears for more than 14 days you can be given a notice to vacate. A landlord has an obligation to try to ‘reach a solution’, as Consumer Affairs Victoria phrases it, before giving you a notice to vacate. If they don’t do this, you can bring this up with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Love (or at least get on with) thy neighbours

Beyond it just being nice getting on with your neighbours, there are benefits to being a conscientious and considerate neighbour. A ‘good tenant now’ is ‘a good tenant in the future’. In other words, a property manager who receives complaints from disgruntled neighbours may not give you the most glowing reference to future potential property managers. Being a good neighbour benefits not only you but the landlord. Developing a strong and vigilant community helps protect your possessions from theft, as well as the structural and economic integrity of your landlord’s investment. They don’t want a house that has been robbed as this affects their property’s value for potential buyers who can find out crime rates for their neighbuorhoods  in their research.

Want to make a good impression? Check out some tips on what property managers look out for during inspections.