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Dealing with your landlord – Tips on how to build a good relationship

Moving into a new place of residence can be daunting, and a hell of a lot of work, especially if you are letting a property. What with carrying over your possessions, setting up the furniture if unfurnished, handling the paperwork and getting your internet installed, it’s time consuming and exhausting. But the most nail bitingly stressful part might just be meeting your landlord.

Unless they’re nice, dealing with new landlords of your rental home in Malta can be a headache. They are the ones who can let you have pets, throw parties and fix whatever gets broken without deducting it from your deposit. So striking a good note with your landlord should be high on your to-do lists. Start doing this by making a good first impression – be polite and respectful. And although being polite and thoughtful should be a badge you wear everyday, make sure you are so to your landlords too.

First off, understand that renting a property is essentially a trade transaction, where you are purchasing a service—you pay landlord, landlord provides you with residence.  This means that you shouldn’t expect any more than what’s been offered and common decency from your landlord. Having said that, you have to make sure that you do get what you’re paying for, and that the landlord is operating lawfully and respectfully.

When dealing with a landlord, be honest. Lying or omitting information only serves to complicate matters. Accidents and mistakes happen, so being honest will not only be an asset to your reputation, but will lead to solving problems quicker and more efficiently. Learn your contract. Tackling issues with your landlord will be a stunted affair if you do not know the contract. Think of it as the foundation for your relationship with the landlord. Expecting your landlord to pay for a bulb that went bust, while it is being clearly stated in the contract that the landlord will not pay for any light bulbs that go bust, is obviously going to work to your disadvantage. To this end, familiarise yourself with the renting laws too.  Don’t expect to get what your colleague’s get either, this is a pitfall in many landlord vs lessee relationships, where the tenants may have signed an agreement and expect because their friends landlord allows them to barbecue on the balcony one feels that they may also do this, even if both properties are in the same block.  If it’s not in the contract you can expect that the landlord will close an eye.

Reading your rental agreement thoroughly will not only give you assurance and a good standpoint to solve issues, but it will also help you avoid being a victim to any abuse or oversights from your landlord. Also remember not to take it for granted that the landlord knows these laws back to front, because they might not. If situations arise where you need to reach a compromise, this might be the way to go about solving issues. Knowing your rights and your contract will put you in a good position, but be careful not to compromise too much. Remember that you are paying for a service, and this service happens to be a place of residence—your home.

Your landlord might be obliged by law to maintain and repair any damages that fall within health and safety, wear and tear, or defects in the property—access to water and electricity, heating and air-conditioning, bug infestations, leaking roofs however it is important that you check if there are any clauses that may differ or are excluding certain items.  It has been seem where a landlord has rented a property at a much lower rate so that they don’t have to deal with the maintenance.

Pay your rent within the specified time frame and if you can’t inform your landlord.  An email, a telephone call or a face to face meeting will do the trick but communication is the key to any rental agreement. Anyone may go through a tough time and should you always be late in paying (even though you might have the funds) the day when you really need your landlord to cut you some slack may turn into bad karma. If your punctual all the time, your landlord should understand that you may need some more time.  Again, this goes back to having an honest relationship.

Still, your top priority is to be a good tenant. Make sure to follow the rules, and although it is ok to break them every once in a while, do not be abusive in any way. And by the way, a seasonal, festive gift doesn’t go amiss either. Remember the old adage ‘Treat others as you want to be treated’.