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Landlord Relations: What’s the Word? (Conclusion)

Some signs that things may have hit the rocks

CHICAGO — Many laundromats across the United States occupy rented space, so working cooperatively with the landlord, and within the terms of the lease, can prevent headaches the laundry owner likely doesn’t need.

And that’s why maintaining friendly, regular communications with the landlord while backed by a good understanding of what the lease document accommodates puts the laundry tenant in the best position regarding the real estate where their washers and dryers reside.

If you’re a renter, what’s your experience been like? Do you check in with your landlord regularly, or is it the landlord who calls on you? How do the two of you communicate? Is your relationship based almost exclusively on your lease and the rent you owe, or has it grown beyond that?

Earlier parts of this article delved into the tenancy experiences of laundromat owners from Colorado, North Carolina and New Jersey. Let’s conclude:

How much does the tenant’s understanding of lease conditions contribute to building a good relationship with their landlord?

“It’s a very big part of it,” says Melissa Berry, owner of Fort Collins, Colorado’s ExelAnce Laundry. “If you don’t understand your lease, you leave a lot of open-ended loopholes.”

“I think a lot of people might not read their lease and only figure it out when stuff actually happens,” Marc Fuller, owner of Charlotte, North Carolina’s 24 Hour Laundry, says. “They might have their attorney look over it … and then when something happens, they’ll say, ‘I didn’t know this was in the lease.’”

“I think it’s definitely invaluable,” says multi-store owner Scott Roberts, who operates Wizard of Wash in Toms River, New Jersey, and Suds by the Shore in Long Branch, N.J. Collectively, they operate under the name Laundry Bros. “If you go into it thinking one thing and you’re surprised later, it could be disastrous for your business. You need to understand the terms very clearly. The (laundry) business is a challenging business to begin with, and if you don’t keep your lease straight and you’re not on the same page, it could spell big problems very quickly.”

What are some signs that a landlord-tenant relationship may have hit the rocks?

“With a bad landlord … they rarely return phone calls,” Berry says. “They never want to help out. They blame everything on you. When they start pointing fingers is when I become kind of skeptical of the building itself, because the owner doesn’t seem to be very willing to work with anybody.”

“If a landlord talks about nothing else but money, is very money-centric,” Roberts says. “The landlord we deal with in Long Branch, every conversation revolves around what is owed to him.”

Fuller says it’s a bad sign when the landlord is “enforcing the lease when they don’t have to.”

There’s nothing set in stone about how often a tenant should look up their landlord, or even if they’d want to.

“I typically like to engage with the ‘good’ landlord at least once a month,” Roberts says. “With the one who’s challenging, we have our differences of opinion, so we don’t talk as often, and I don’t see the relationship going much past the terms of the lease. But certainly, if you’ve got a good location and you want to keep going, it’s a good idea to engage with your landlord.”

If you encounter a difficult landlord, or have one who is particularly challenging, open communication is the best way to resolve issues, he believes.

“If you’re in constant communication with each other, then there won’t be any surprises if something happens,” Berry says.

“I think the best communication is paying rent on time,” Fuller says.

You can read earlier parts of this article here: Part 1Part 2