5 Things That Can Damage a Landlord-Tenant Relationship

March 30, 2018

With property one of the top investment choices in Australia, more and more people are finding themselves taking on the position of landlord.

But the landlord/tenant relationship can be a tricky one to manage.

If both sides neglect their duties and obligations, the relationship can quickly turn sour and, if an issue can’t be resolved amicably, disputes can go all the way to court.

Here are some potential lemons that can sour a good working relationship between a landlord and tenant.

Communication breakdown

Good communication is key to resolving any issues quickly and peaceably between landlords and tenants.

But communication is a two-way street, so if one party is prone to angry phone messages or not responding at all it can be incredibly difficult for a tenant to get things repaired, or for a landlord to get their overdue rent paid. Landlords must respond to requests for urgent repairs promptly and efficiently.

But, there are always two sides to every story, so listen calmly to what the other person has to say and be polite.

Lack of mutual respect

When a tenant signs a lease to rent a property, it’s their responsibility to treat it with respect.

That means taking care of it, cleaning it, keeping it tidy and informing the landlord if anything is broken. Tenants who mistreat a property aren’t going to be looked on favourably by a landlord and may lose their bond at the end of the lease or be evicted early.

Likewise, a landlord needs to respect a tenant’s rights when conducting inspections and adequate notice needs to be given to enter the property. Landlords have to keep the property in a good, safe condition, which also involves things like deep cleaning and regular gas and electrical safety checks.

Tenants have the right to refuse entry to a landlord who shows up unannounced and in most states, a notice of entry should be shown to the tenant if they are not present.

For example, mould is the landlord’s responsibility. But if the landlord refuses to aid in the treatment of it, this can harm the relationship.

Being unrealistic

A tenant who is constantly on the phone to their landlord complaining about every tiny issue will soon be put on the backburner. When something really does go wrong, the landlord may be slow to respond as they’re not sure how ‘urgent’ it is.

Tenants should only call their landlord if something needs be to fixed or repaired.

Likewise, landlords need to organise repairs in a timely manner if there is something broken. ‘Leaving it’ won’t endear you to your tenant and is a failure of the duty of care set out in the tenancy agreement.

Accidents happen

Tenants are only human, so if they do accidentally break something, have a gathering that’s a bit too loud or miss a rent payment, give them a chance to redeem themselves.

But don’t be a walkover either. Some tenants like to push the boundaries to see what they can get away with, and if you’re too nice you’re the one that will end up out of pocket.

Calmly but firmly remind them of their responsibilities as tenants and how a series of missed rent payments or being a nuisance to neighbours can get them evicted.

Additionally, landlords should know long they have to fix problems before new problems are created.

Not keeping promises

Trust is an important ingredient in the landlord/tenant relationship. So if you say you’re going to do something, then keep your promise – this is applies to both parties.

For landlords, this can be organising a repair or extending a lease. For tenants it can be agreeing to pay for accidental damage or keeping the noise down. It also help to know who’s responsible for things like a blocked sewer drain or mould.

If you’re not able to fulfill a promise, talk to the other party and come up with an alternative solution.

Alternatively, if something is not able to be done immediately but you’re working on it and communicating this, then it will go some way to keeping everybody happy.

Once trust is broken it can be difficult to get anything done and situations can drag on endlessly.  

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