Renters: How to Make Your Landlord Love You

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"My landlord in the first place I ever rented was amazing," says Anya Novak, a nonprofit manager in Los Angeles. "So I was really taken aback when I got a landlord who never answered my calls, much less dealt with my problems."

Not all landlords and building managers are the kind that call and ask how everything is going. But that doesn't mean they can't turn into someone who does. A landlord, like anyone else, is going to be more apt to follow through with a person they like and respect. Although the old adage, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil" is a compelling one, the truth is, it doesn't matter how loud you squeak if a person isn't answering their phone to hear it.

Hiring a lawyer is a tricky, not to mention expensive and time-consuming proposition when trying to get your building manager to simply do his or her job. So first, try these tricks and see if a little good old-fashioned manipulation can help.

1. Use intrigue to ensure a returned phone call

When you leave a message, try not to sound like calling you back is going to mean work. Cut
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out words like "emergency" and "important" and replace them with the phrase, "I wanted to get your opinion on something." Keep any subsequent phone calls casual, and if the problem truly isn't an emergency, space them out in at least 24-hour intervals.

"Ask the landlord for the best way to contact them, the best time – and offer them the same information for you," suggests Martin Joseph, a landlord with several properties in Brooklyn, N.Y.

When they finally do call you back, try to stay casual as you explain that the twenty-year-old hose on your range has finally busted and you are concerned that the gas smell might lead to an explosion. Conclude with a simple, "What do you suggest I do?"

2. How to get away with paying rent late

"If you are unable to pay rent on time," says Joseph, "the best thing to do is give your landlord as much notice as possible."

Don't just postdate a check without mentioning it, and certainly don't just withhold a check altogether. Most landlords have bills to pay too. Not paying your rent on time can interrupt the flow of things on their end.

"Their obligations for their mortgages, utilities, employees, et cetera, are paid for by the rent," adds Joseph.

However, many landlords will be understanding as long as you are able to offer a reasonable date they can expect your rent and then follow through.

3. Make sure repairs are carried out, timely and efficiently

"Landlords are usually very busy especially if a super or dedicated repairmen are not on the payroll," points out Joseph. He suggests you ask in advance the best way to notify your landlord when repairs are needed. Also, try to maintain clarity about the urgency of the repair. Obviously, having to wait six months for any repair is unacceptable, but waiting a week to have one of several hallway lights replaced shouldn't occupy your every thought -- or require multiple phone calls. If you want your landlord to take you seriously, give them a chance to make necessary repairs without hysterics or harassment.

If the problem is more serious, give them the option to allow you to take care of it yourself and bill them for it. Even suggest that you will call the plumber/electrician of their choice, if it will make things easier. They will appreciate you respecting their time but if they commit to taking care of the problem themselves, they will have the added pressure of knowing that you offered.

4. Understanding the enemy

If you look at your landlord as the "them" in an us vs. them battle, chances are it will create more problems than it will solve. Instead, think of the landlord as the "co-parent" of your domicile. They have an investment in the property that they have entrusted to you.

"I cannot count how many times tenants wait to call you when something needs repairing," says Joseph. "I'd rather be able to fix things right away."

For example, if your shower tiles are coming off, water can seep and mildew can grow in places that might become truly problematic down the road. Make this clear to your landlord when you submit the request for repair: You are thinking of their investment, not just the aesthetics of your shower.

Finally, consider putting everything in writing and keep copies. If your landlord doesn't provide you with an email address, include repair requests with your rent check. And when things do get fixed, show your appreciation with a small gift, a note or even just a quick "thanks" on your landlord's answering machine. Sure, it's their job to do it, but it is downright polite to acknowledge it, and who knows? It might get you an even faster, more efficient response down the road.



Still trying to decide which is right for you? Here are some AOL Real Estate guides to help you no matter whether you choose to buy or rent:

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Find out how to calculate mortgage payments.
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