Ten Things Tenants Want Their Landlords To Know

We’re packing up this week to move house, leaving the beautiful two-storey A-frame bungalow on an acre we’ve been renting for the last eighteen months. We’ve been renters since 1998, when we decided that whilst we could appreciate our own home was going to cost us a lot of money, we did not consider it should also cost us our marriage. The great thing about renting, apart from the fact you can afford holidays, oh, and groceries, is that when a house has issues, you can either merrily ignore them or, if they are a real inconvenience, report them to your real estate agent. Either way, a rented house’s problems are someone else’s, which suits us just fine.

The downside of renting is that your your place of residence, your retreat from the world and the place where you keep and care for all that’s important to you in the world, largely amounts to someone else’s second priority at least financially. When times get tough, an investment property is the first thing to suffer. Hot water services don’t get fixed, dead trees don’t get cut down (we recently had a boat and trailer crushed under a dead tree that fell down on the property we rent) and, worst possible case scenario, homes get sold right out from underneath tenants, even those loyal, tidy, diligent on-time rent-paying ones.

But tenants are far from ungrateful. We want our landlords to know we really do appreciate you and your investment immensely. I love renting and don’t envisage stopping any time soon, so I have a vested interest in being a good tenant.  Because I am such a good tenant - I clean up after myself, I pay my rent on time and I report any problems - I would like to take the liberty of telling landlords a few things I think their tenants wish they knew.  I’ve been cleaning the house we’re about to leave, and getting ready to occupy another one, and so I’ve been writing these down as they pop into my head.

And here they are:

  • No matter what the salesman tells you at Cons Carpet Colosseum, please don’t put cream, beige, pale grey, eggshell, ecru, bone, off-white or - heaven forbid - white colored carpet in your investment property, even if it’s cheap. There’s a reason why it’s cheap. No one in their right mind wants it. Your tenant will not be able to keep that carpet clean, no matter what they do. Even if they are able, by some miracle, to do it, you can bet that at some stage they will have some visitor who will not care that your tenant is scared to death of your agent. That visitor will bring with them to your property a shaken up bottle of orange soda, an incontinent pet and a large, runny and violently coloured jelly dessert, and your tenant will be powerless to stop them. Just go for tan or brown colored floor coverings - it covers a multitude of sins.
  • If your investment property is over fifteen years old, please do not expect your tenant to remove dirt so old it can be carbon dated.
  • Timber floors get scratched.  Please do not penalise your tenants for putting furniture, walking or breathing on your precious timber floor. If you lived there, it would have scratched just the same. If you want to keep your timber floors scratch free, put carpet down over them, and hows about you make it brown carpet.
  • Ovens and stoves are important appliances in the modern home. This is because the people who rent your house will want to eat every day, preferably food they cooked in the house they pay to live in. It’s quite important to your tenant that the stove and oven work properly. Note- if they were manufactured before 1975 and been used by twenty five sets of tenants since then, they don’t work properly.
  • Tenants like pretty things too. Don’t cement over the lawn. Don’t take out the lovely lead-lights and replace with them aluminium sliders. Things like garden beds and bits of coloured glass mean a lot to people who can’t afford to buy their own house.
  • Vertical blinds are in no way legitimate window coverings. They are stupid and ugly. Vertical blinds become tangled whenever a butterfly stretches it’s wings a continent away. Put up cheap fabric tab top curtains, cover the windows with newspaper for crying out loud, but please, do not put up vertical blinds, unless you want to wake up with a horses head on your pillow.
  • Did you know there is a way to fix the tiny little holes in walls caused when you hang a picture on the wall? It comes in inexpensive little tubs; you just scrape it on and it fills the holes right up. We will even do it for you. Small price to pay so we can hang up photos of our children and have our favourite art surrounding us. Nobody likes to be make to feel like a criminal for pushing a few tacks into the wall.
  • If your investment property has more than two bedrooms, we will probably want to bring our kids to live there. Kids are those small people who do not understand lease agreements, vertical blinds and cream coloured carpet. Do yours?
  • Insect screens are not made to last forever. They have holes in them because they were last replaced around the time Cyndi Lauper released Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. We didn’t destroy your screens: they were so decimated by age that one day a fly just flew straight through the mesh and didn’t even stop. Just suck it up and face the fact that you need to replace them every now and then.
  • Paint, last time I checked, is not imbued with special armour-like qualities. I love the purple feature wall on the landing, but you only have to walk within three feet of it to take a chip out of it you can see from across the street. All those colours you thought you could do carpet in? Keep them for the walls. In fact, just reverse all your wall/carpet colour choices and we’ll be sweet.
  • When you decide you want to sell your investment property/my home, I do not become excited by the prospect of having photos taken of my possessions while I am packing to get out with three weeks notice, about having an open house the day the removalist truck is coming, or about having people call  come and take another look through while I am trying to untangle your vertical blinds and have orange soda professionally steam cleaned from your cream coloured carpet. Well, probably not as excited as you are at unburdening yourself of what has become my home. I just gave you a big pile of my money to give to your bank. Please - give me just a small break.

That’s about it. Can I just take this opportunity to say thanks to all you landlords who have decided to invest in property. Because of you, I have been able to live in some lovely homes. To me they have been homes, while to you they are probably just houses. If you have an investment property, you don’t want just a tenant. You want someone like me - someone who loves the house they live in, takes care of it as if it was their own. With that in mind, please take a moment to consider the above. I would threaten you, but I just remembered - you know where I live.


Jo Hilder



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