Why Hiding Things From Your Landlord Could Cost You

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Anyone who’s ever rented knows the value of having a good relationship with your landlord or property manager. Not only because a good relationship may give you a little clemency if your rent payment is a day late, but also because a bad relationship could make your living situation stressful to the point of being unbearable. One important way to nurture a positive connection with your landlord is to be totally upfront and honest from the moment you sign the lease. After all, renting property to a stranger is pretty risky, and landlords want to be able to trust the person living in their space.

And the opposite is also true: One of the easiest ways to form a negative relationship with your landlord is to lie or hide things from him or her. In fact, hiding things from your landlord or property manager can seriously cost you in several ways.

Hiding a Pet

According to a 2013 Rent.com survey of a 1,000 U.S. renters with pets, 23 percent had hidden a pet from their landlord. There are a couple reasons someone may hide a pet. First, it may be breaking the pet policy. In fact, 83 percent of renters said they had a difficult time finding a pet-friendly rental. Second, the landlord or property may charge extra deposits and monthly fees for renters with pets – 60 percent of renters reported paying between $100 and $500 for a pet deposit. Either way, hiding a pet in your apartment is breaking your lease and could cost you. Plus, you have the added stress of hiding your cat, his smelly litter box and his myriad toys every time the maintenance man needs to come in.

Hiding a New Roommate

Another common thing people try to keep from their landlords is a new roommate whose name doesn’t appear on the lease. Even if you get the new person moved in without your landlord noticing (good luck bringing in a new set of furniture), you don’t want to live in constant fear of being found out. Like harboring hidden pets, having roommates who aren’t on the lease could also be deemed as breaking your lease, which could cost you.

The Costs of Hiding Things

We’ve established that “hiding things could cost you,” but what exactly does that mean? Well, it may be more serious than you think. Here are a few ways hiding things could make your life a lot harder when your landlord finds out:

  • Money. In the best-case scenario, your landlord or property manager will simply charge you a fine and have you pay the required deposits, extra rent or extra utilities outlined in your lease. You also may have to forfeit your security deposit, which could make it a lot harder to put down a deposit on a new place.
  • A place to live. The second way hiding things can cost you is a bit more serious than a simple fine; you could be evicted. Though a pet or an unlisted roommate may not seem that dire to you, landlords have reasons for making those rules. If they don’t allow pets, it’s often because pets aren’t covered under their insurance. And if they don’t allow unlisted people, it may be because those people aren’t liable if they cause damage to the property. Breaking the lease by hiding things could mean you’ll be out of a place to live altogether.
  • Credit. As if losing your apartment isn’t enough, an eviction can seriously affect your credit rating – and since having good credit will be necessary in the future for finding a new place, buying a car and being approved for a loan, this consequence may end up affecting you even longer than the others.
  • A valuable reference. Even if your landlord lets you stay in the apartment and simply charges a small fee, it’s unlikely he or she will provide you with a good reference when it comes time to apply for a new apartment. In fact, they’ll likely bring up the dishonesty with your new prospective landlords.
  • Lawsuits. Finally, and in arguably the worst-case scenario, hiding things from your landlord could even be cause for a lawsuit. While this isn’t likely, it could happen if your hidden dog bites someone or your unlisted roommate burns the building down.
Clearly, being honest with your landlord or property manager is the best policy. If you have a friend or significant other who wants to move in, get written permission beforehand. If you’re interested in getting a pet, make sure you choose a pet-friendly place and pay the extra deposit and monthly charges – you’ll avoid any possibility of paying for it (figuratively or literally) down the road.
This article originally appeared on U.S. News.

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