6 secrets you shouldn’t keep from your landlord

If you ever kept mum as a child rather than fessing up about breaking something, you’re not alone! But those moments offer a lesson for later in life: Confess and deal with the consequences of your actions—you’ll usually be found out anyway! Renters sometimes have a similar instinct when something goes awry in their rental—whether or not the mishap was their fault. The idea of telling your landlord about accidentally clogging the kitchen sink might sound dreadful, but there are certain things you need to be transparent about.

6 Things Your Landlord Needs to Know

You adopted a pet.

Maybe you didn’t have a pet when you signed your lease, but after you moved in, you ran into a pair of puppy-dog eyes you just couldn’t resist. Sneaking in pets because they aren’t allowed in the rental or to avoid paying extra fees at your pet-friendly apartment could get you evicted (really!) or slapped with a hefty fine. Pets can damage property, and landlords who allow pets usually require a pet deposit or fee—or charge a slightly higher rent. Still not sold? If your landlord doesn’t know about your furry companion, you could be putting your pet in danger.

You moved someone in.

Landlords screen tenants before renting to them by conducting a credit check and, sometimes, a background check. If you bring in a roommate after signing your lease, you haven’t given the landlord the chance to screen this person, and that could get you evicted. Even you’re trying to help out a close friend, you’re reliable for any damage he or she might cause. More occupants also mean more wear and tear on the property and, depending on the property and its jurisdiction, there may be restrictions on the number of occupants allowed to live in the unit.

RELATED: A look at some of the best cities to be a homeowner: 

10 Best Cities to Be a Homeowner
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10 Best Cities to Be a Homeowner

Columbus is a great place to settle down and buy a home, with its low unemployment rate and low cost of living. This college town (it’s home to Ohio State University) has a laid-back Midwestern vibe, and the city has world-renowned hospitals (including The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center) and research centers as well as an up-and-coming dining scene.

Find homes for sale in Columbus, Ohio, or search listings in your area.

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Although Denver homes are somewhat costly compared to the other cities on this list, the median income is high enough in this nature-loving city to compensate for the higher cost. Denver, known for its cleanliness, has something for every resident, including great sports teams, food, nearby mountains for hiking and skiing and a great music scene.

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More than half of those living in Indianapolis own a home, and the homes themselves are very affordable, particularly when combined with the low cost of living in the city. Indianapolis provides plenty of affordable homes for homebuyers.

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Phoenix has a below average cost of living and a moderate median income. The city’s real estate market is very friendly to house-hunting Phoenicians. With plenty of natural beauty at the Grand Canyon and historic trading posts as well as tons of culture at the art museums and theaters, Phoenix provides something for everyone.

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Austin, the “Live Music Capitol of the World,” is known for its music festivals such as South by Southwest and Austin City Limits, but the city is great for homebuyers as well as music-lovers. A home is only 7.5 times the median income, and the city’s home values are very likely to appreciate in time, given the city’s low unemployment rate and high growth rate.

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Jacksonville has the highest home ownership rate on our list, making it very likely that aspiring homeowners will be able to save up for the home of their dreams in the Sunshine State. Plus, with 20 miles of beaches, the popular Riverside district and plenty of museums, the city is full of things to do.

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El Paso’s high homeownership rate and low cost of living make it a great city for those who plan on buying their own home. Aspiring homebuyers would do well to check out The Sun City’s real estate market. With great food, a great climate and many emerging technology and health care research companies, the city’s is a great place to settle down. Other attractions include the Franklin Mountains and the historic missions.

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San Antonio’s real estate market is great for homebuyers -- the majority of residents are homeowners, and homes are fairly low-cost in the Alamo City. The city is an excellent location for families as well, with plenty of historical sites and family-friendly such as the Alamo and the River Walk, and a Six Flags and Sea World to boot.

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Charlotte’s low cost of living and high home ownership rate make it a much easier city than most in which to purchase a home. This financial center is family-friendly, with excellent schools and large public parks. Charlotteans can benefit from the city’s great real estate offerings for those looking to purchase homes.

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Fort Worth has the lowest median home cost on our list, a low unemployment rate and a relatively high population growth rate, making this popular Lone Star State city an ideal place for homebuyers to settle down. The “City of Cowboys and Culture” has a thriving social scene as well, with its own indoor rodeo at The Stockyards, a district containing classic Texas barbecue restaurants and historical landmarks.

Find homes for sale in Fort Worth, Texas, or search listings in your area.

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The toilet’s clogged.

Or there’s a leaky faucet, or there’s water backing out of a drain. You could ignore those problems, maybe by using another bathroom, or you could try to fix the problem yourself—but both approaches would be wrong. Many tenants don’t report plumbing problems, afraid they’ll be charged for the repair. (And yes, typically, if a plumbing problem is your fault, you’ll need to pay for the fix.) But the landlord is responsible for fixing all other plumbing problems.

However, if you don’t report a plumbing issue right away, and a small problem turns into a big, expensive disaster, you might be on the hook to pay whether you caused the problem or not. And you can bet the plumbing bill will now be much bigger than it would have been if you had reported the problem immediately. Who pays for rental repairs typically depends on your lease and on state laws.

There’s a new water stain on the ceiling.

A water stain on the ceiling might not seem like a big deal, and it may not be … yet. But unusual water stains often mean a leaky roof. Like a plumbing issue, the problem will continue to worsen every time it rains. A small leak that’s left unattended can become a major problem. Water can seep into the ceiling and damage insulation, wiring, and framework. And that’s why you need to report a water stain to your landlord right away.

You have bedbugs.

Some tenants don’t want to report bedbugs because they’re afraid they’ll have to pay for the extermination costs (unfortunately, renters insurance may not cover the cost to remove them). Often, the landlord pays for extermination costs anyway. The only time you pay is if there’s proof you brought in the bedbugs. And unless you brought in a mattress you found on the side of the street or have bedbugs crawling all over your suitcase from your recent trip abroad, it’s difficult to prove fault.

You lost your key.

Okay, your landlord will probably charge you to replace your lost key. But the fee for doing this should be minimal. If you’re worried that someone might find your key and use it to enter your property, you’ll need to d, which will cost more. But unless your address was attached to the key, the odds of someone knowing which door the key unlocks are slim.

Originally published November 28, 2016. Updated November 15, 2017.

What secrets have you told your landlord? Are there some you’re still keeping? Share your stories in the comments!

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