Most days—barring ongoing, major home maintenance issues—your relationship with your landlord is probably largely invisible. Rent goes out once a month, and you continue to have a place to sleep at night.
But when landlords do swing by, you’re probably wondering: What do they see about your space that you don’t? After all, it’s their space you’re living in. While guests may appreciate your decor and the space’s aesthetic, it’s more likely that all a landlord will see are potential risks and maintenance problems that will cost them down the line. To get inside their heads, I asked landlords all across North America to share the things they hate seeing in their tenants apartment. Here, the 12 things they watch out for:
- Unclean refrigerators.
- Insects: Seeing any of the above signals lack of basic upkeep, says Diana Pittro, executive vice president of RMK Management in Chicago, Illinois. While this stems from chronic neglect and uncleanliness on the renter’s part, it also can be a sign that management needs to be more vocal about expected living standards.
- Sagging ceilings: “Never a good sign!” says Pittro.
- Water spots: Pittro says these two are larger problems that the tenant didn’t cause. However, a tenant may not report them, either, because they don’t want the hassle (e.g. moving clothes to repair water damage in the back of a closet.) However, not flagging them immediately means they will get worse over time.
- A running dishwasher or washing machine: “A landlord is going to be concerned if they notice you have a habit of running these appliances when you aren’t home and available to turn it off if it starts to leak,” says Jesse Harris, property manager with Medallion Captial Group in Toronto, Ontario.
- Dripping faucets: “Apartment owners in Los Angeles typically pay for the water so seeing leaky faucets, tubs or toilets is not what we want to see,” says Dan Tenenbaum, from Pacific Crest Real Estate in Los Angeles, California.
- Waterbeds: “[They’re] a landlord’s enemy because if one bursts it can cause extensive water damage,” says Harris.
- Space heaters: Harris says they can easily be left unattended and become a fire hazard.
- A wee-wee pad or litter box: “That smell can be pungent and hard to get out once you move out,” says Robert Rahmanian of REAL New Yori.
- Instruments: “As much as we love rock stars, when they unpack their amplifiers and electric guitars, drums and any other rock band equipment, we know calls from the neighbors are surely on their way to complain about the noise,” says Janis Benstock of Settle Down Philadelphia.
- Anything bolted to the ceiling or floors: Anything that can damage the floors or strain the beams is a red flag for landlords, say Benstock. (For example, she says she’s had tenants complain about their neighbor’s stripper poles. “The people downstairs called bewildered at what that noise is, she says.)
Amps with thumping bass aside, these are also things tenants themselves should hate to see. After all, the black mold or sagging ceiling might not be on your property, but they can cost you money and overtime when you leave. Hefty fines and renovation costs are likely to come your way in the form of rent increases. Additionally, your deposit ensures that a well-maintained property is mutually beneficial to everyone. Whether you want to risk it and install a stripper pole, causing your landlord headaches and you a chunk of that deposit, is up to you