The best relationships are built on trust. That holds true in both personal and business dealings, including the leasing of property. Integrity and honesty also pays dividends when you may need flexibility or special consideration from your property manager.
It begins with the application process, when the managing agent will investigate your credit, employment, references, and criminal background in some cases to determine whether you are a qualified candidate for the property. Perfection is not the standard – so it’s better to be forthright about any issues that might be revealed during screening. As an example, after the real estate market correction – screening standards were modified to place less weight on foreclosure as a reason to decline applicants. Because application screening can cost anywhere from $25-$100 per applicant, it would likely be a waste of time and money to conceal information at the outset.
Common issues that arise after the lease is signed are: a) unauthorized pets; b) bringing in a roommate without the landlord’s consent and; c) failing to report property damage caused by the tenant. Each of these constitutes a breach of the lease and result in lost money, potential termination of tenancy, or even damage to your credit.
If you want to add a roommate or acquire a pet, talk to your property manager before you bring the person or animal into the property. If the manager finds out after the fact, your credibility with them is irreparably damaged and the landlord will be less likely to approve the change or waive any penalty charges. In the case of a roommate, having that person subjected to screening for approval also protects the original tenant, since reliable payment of bills would be of interest to everyone involved.
Concealing damages never ends well. Ignoring a problem or causing damage you fail to report makes you liable for the cost of repairs and is potentially a breach of the lease as well. Some states such as Virginia have “contributory negligence” statutes that potentially render tenants subject to money judgments for failure to disclose damages. If a tenant allows a moisture condition to occur which results in mold for example, the cost can be many thousands of dollars.
In the end, establishing a good working relationship based on trust benefits landlord, manager, and tenant alike. You’ll get some latitude when you need consideration and the property manager will be able to provide you a glowing reference when you relocate.