If you’re a landlord who has to live with your tenant, or vice versa, we have good news: all the major annoyances become minor ones, if you’re willing to make sometimes drastic alterations to your lifestyle. Now you may say that’s still not good news, it’s a pain in the butt. You’re right, and I only wrote that because I needed some kind of optimistic statement to placate you. Having to live with a tenant / landlord is always going to be weird and uncomfortable, like a dinner conversation where someone brought up politics. But there are some things you can do:
Common problems when co-existing with your tenant _ landlord (and how to fix them)If there are limited bathrooms, this will be the first problem you notice. You stumble out of bed at 7 am, eyes gunked up and breath smelling like a sewer, and you can’t wait to wash up. But then you find out the tenant / landlord is in there, and likes to take long slow showers. On top of that, your job starts at 9am, and you’re in Tampines while your office is in Commonwealth.
This gets intensely annoying, so you’ll have to work out some kind of schedule. See if one of you is in a position to use the bathroom later, and plan around it. If you both need the bathroom at the same time, then someone has to get get up earlier (that’s you, tenant).
As a matter of fact, if you are renting and co-existing with the landlord, you might want to ask early on if there’s a bathroom immediately available upon waking. Unless, of course, you are happy to risk the prospect of having to wake up early for the rest of your one or two year lease.
Forget about setting a time limit. No one’s bowels or warm shower rapture gives a rat’s behind about a time limit.
The landlord’s pets
If you’re a tenant, you might have to co-exist with your landlord’s pets. If you’re lucky, it’s a lovable, cuddly animal; or a decorative and inconsequential creature which doesn’t do much, like a goldfish or multi-level-marketer.
Otherwise, you might be dealing with a dog that mauls your bag, slobbers over you, and sheds fur like a cheap carpet. And make no mistake, cats can shed just as much.
Now in all fairness, you did know about the pet before you took up the lease. But in reality, pets can seem fine at the time, but turn out to be a nightmare later. And some landlords get offended when you make requests like “can you not let him into my room”, or “please keep it locked in the kitchen”, or “can you throw him out this open window”.
(Note: I love animals and would never harm one. But some are basically just terrorists with fur, and we deserve to at least imagine them flying out the window)
An alternative version of this is the landlord that expects you to look after the pet, even if this was never in the deal. This begins with little things, like “can you feed the fish on evenings”, and somehow manages to graduate to “I’m going away for a week, scrub the entire fish tank and rinse every pebble in it”.
The best solution here is to develop a relevant allergy. To avoid conflict and hurt feelings, simply tell your landlord you are violently allergic to fur, or whatever animal part qualifies. As for being told to look after pets, I suggest you avoid ever acceding to such demands (say you have something important to do). Those requests tend to grow.
The landlord’s / tenant’s children
The best solution here is to develop a relevant allergy. Simply tell your…oh wait.
Children are a sensitive issue that are way more touchy than pets. But it’s a fact that children, if not well controlled (and more importantly, not yours), can be an endless source of problems. Children can be loud, noisy, obnoxious, and (in America) run for President.
The key here is to over-communicate a little. Don’t just tell the tenant or landlord to keep their children away (parents can’t help feeling offended when they get the impression you hate their offspring). You need to explain certain issues. If you say “I have a super important meeting and need to get up at five, and I do need to get to sleep early”, most people will know to keep their children from bothering you.
If you want to lie for this, the best job to pretend to have is air traffic controller. But seriously, don’t lie. Just be honest and communicate your needs. As long as they feel you aren’t rejecting their children, they’ll take it well.
The first fight you overhear
Nothing is more uncomfortable than being within two metres of a family fight, be it your tenant’s or landlord’s. But if you have to co-exist with someone else, particularly a family, it will happen.
Odds are you’ll want to hole up in your own room, and you’ll be happy to hold your bladder if you need to use the bathroom (anything to avoid awkward meetings in the hallway). But the only way around this issue is to take a deep breath, thicken your skin, and go about your business pretending nothing is happening.
This is where apartments with landscaped gardens, clubhouses, or balconies can be useful: it’s important to have a space to retreat to, if you have work to do while WW III is raging in the living room.
(You can totally find a cool apartment like that on 99.co, just take a quick look at our listings).
Things will get moved around, and they need to be talked about
Take it from experience, there will be situations when your shampoo / room fan / favourite mug etc. gets moved without your knowledge. In particular, you may be living with the sort who uses your toothpaste and peanut butter, and thinks nothing of (1) telling you first, or (2) being a decent human being and replacing it.
When these situations start, don’t just keep quiet and seethe. Communicate about it. Don’t accuse your tenant / landlord, just politely ask if they moved or used your stuff. Likewise, if you move their stuff, always be sure to ask first. If they’re not around, leave or note or explain it later.
It’s the little things, not the big ones
It’s seldom one big issue that causes conflict in co-living situations. More often, it’s an accumulation of small details. Someone keeping the light on all night, waking you at 5 am when they slam open the toilet door, leaving greasy plates all over the kitchen counter – that’s what causes the fights. Alone, all of these things are trivial. But over time, they end up in evictions and lost tenants.
Always talk about the little things, even if you’re afraid you’ll seem silly and trifling. This fixes problems before they have a chance to grow into big ones.
If you found this article helpful, 99.co recommends 5 ways to score the rental apartment of your dreams at a cheaper price and 9 steps to take when you’re renting out a room for the first time.
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