Becoming a great landlord

Good landlords are worth their weight in gold and make for a much smoother renting experience. We put together our list of what makes a good landlord.

A good landlord is a good communicator, who will typically use a real estate or leasing agent as a middle-man. They’ll be fast to answer questions, quick to act when emergency maintenance is required, and easy to deal with.

It goes without saying that a good landlord is something that all renters hope for, whether they’re dealing with a landlord privately or through the assistance of a property manager. 

From good communication to being prompt on issues and repairs, it comes down to a handful of pretty straightforward qualities to make a good landlord. And on the other side of the coin, a handful of qualities that make up the doozies out there.

Typically bad landlords fall into two camps – the pestering menace or the elusive and impossible to contact: those who won’t leave you alone for five minutes; or those you never ever hear from, no matter what goes wrong in their property.

So it makes sense that a good landlord treads this tricky tightrope of communication and discretion with ease, not making you feel uncomfortable in your own bed at night, and yet happy to help when something goes wrong.

Here’s our top tips:

1. Be a good communicator

A good landlord is a good communicator, who will typically use a real estate or leasing agent as a middle-man. They’ll be fast to answer questions, quick to act when emergency maintenance is required, and easy to deal with.

2. Provide clear documentation

A good landlord asks tenants to sign a proper lease and documents any extras in writing. If it’s not in writing it (usually) can’t be enforced, so documentation is important in making sure everyone is on the same page.

3. Stay on top of maintenance

This is a massive issue for tenants. A good landlord not only makes sure their property is clean, tidy and well presented, but is quick to repair and maintain anything that goes wrong.

4. Provide great customer service

Yes, you heard right, a good landlord gives good customer service. Because a good landlord knows they are a service provider.

Renting is a business arrangement, so a good landlord keeps their customers happy, gets repeat or ongoing business and turns a profit. Landlords who view their property leasing as a business transaction are less likely to let emotion govern their decisions.

5. Be transparent with past issues

A good landlord operates with transparency. We could also call this honesty because a landlord knows things about the property that a tenant might not.

Have there been past issues – like pests, mould, neighbours or plumbing; that you should be warned about before moving in?

A good landlord doesn’t cover these up but lets tenants know in advance so that they can work together if the issues arise again.

6. Be reasonable with requests

A good landlord is fair and reasonable and knows the difference between normal wear and tear and genuine damage to the property.

They only take the bond if they really have to. They’ll also be reasonable about any requests from tenants to make living in the property more pleasant (so long as they don’t affect its value) – small modifications like hanging pictures for instance.

7. Maintain a respectful distance

A good landlord keeps a respectful distance. The last thing any renter wants is to have their landlord looking over their shoulder every minute of the day, scrutinising them over inconsequential things.

A landlord who doesn’t insist on dropping in every few months and lets the real estate agent do their job is a good one.

8. Provide some flexibility when necessary

Tenants can’t expect charity or pay their rent late every month – renting is, after all, a business agreement – but a bit of human compassion and understanding in tough times from a landlord can make all the difference.

If a tenant is hospitalised, loses their job, or has a tragedy in the family, a landlord who works with them to sort out the rent money can be a godsend.

9. Trust your tenant

A good landlord trusts their tenants to do the right thing unless they do something to create distrust. Innocent until proven guilty. We’re all adults, right?

It’s easiest to explain this one with a personal example. I once had a landlord who contacted me after I’d moved out to ask if I had taken the cutlery tray insert from the kitchen drawer (it was worth one dollar – and, no, I hadn’t).

At the other end of the landlord spectrum, an excellent landlord trusted me to choose and buy curtains and appliances for the house, and asked me to prepare photos of the property and vet prospective tenants when we moved out. Now that’s trust.

What goes around comes around so in return we lived happily with a damp bathroom and through some major building works when the lounge-room ceiling collapsed.