How to Be a Good Neighbor

Must-know information for students living off campus

Tips for being a good neighbor

Every neighborhood has a personality–some are full of socializing and parties, some are quiet and secluded, and some area  combination of both. The same things go for neighbors. It's not always easy living in a new neighborhood, especially when it may not be your permanent home, but try a few of the suggestions below and see how you can establish a good relationship with your neighbors:

  • Smile and say hello when you see your neighbors.
  • Introduce yourself and exchange contact information with your closest neighbors. contact information for my closest neighbors.
  • Attend a neighborhood association or city meeting and become familiar with what's going on in your neighborhood.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in your neighborhood and pay attention to your neighbors' property when they are away.
  • Know which day garbage and recycling is picked up and make it a point to put bins out and bring them in within a 24-hour period.
  • Keep the entrance, yard, and exterior of your home or apartment clutter-free and free of trash.
  • If you have a car,  always park it so that you are not blocking someone else's driveway.
  • If you have a dog, always clean up after him/her.
  • Know when the quiet hours are in your neighborhood and respect them. Learn about City of Binghamton noise ordinances.
  • Always notify your neighbor(s) when you are going to host a party.
  • Invite your neighbors over to an event you are hosting and get to know each other.
  • If you and your neighbor have an issue arise, be sure you speak to each other directly and calmly, and do not allow things to escalate.

How to spot a bad landlord

  • Ask the landlord lots of questions before signing a lease.
    • Do you live locally or out of town?
    • How long have you owned the property?
    • Do you own the property yourself, or are you part of a property management group?
    • Do you handle maintenance yourself, or do you have a maintenance staff?
    • What repairs do you make? What repairs am I responsible for?
    • How quickly do you respond to maintenance requests or other problems?
    • Who handles the yard work and trash pickup?
    • How long did the last tenants live here?
    • Do you spray for pests?
    • What kind of security measures have you taken with the property and with the rental itself?
  • Pay attention to promptness. If the landlord does not respond in a timely manner when you are scheduling a viewing or communicating over the phone, it's unlikely that will change once you are under a lease. 
  • If possible, talk to other tenants. 
  • Do some background research and investigate the landlord's reputation.
  • Read the lease carefully. The lease-signing is your last chance to walk away penalty-free, so make sure the landlord has not used this legally binding agreement to force you into anything. Legally, the landlord has to follow your state’s landlord and tenant laws, but that does not mean they can’t sneak in some shady clause that’ll make you miserable. Read through the entire lease. If you find something you don’t agree with, ask the landlord to make a change before you sign. You can also look up your state’s landlord and tenant laws (usually found on your state government website or by visiting a local court office.) If the landlord is breaking the law with something in your lease, they have to remove it.
  • Make a rational analysis. Avoid signing a lease just because of something like location. Location will not matter if you are locked into a lease with a bad landlord.
  • Know that there are plenty of rental properties in Binghamton and it's okay to walk away from a deal that does not feel right.

Tips for being the best tenant ever

  1. Pick a good landlord! This is not always easy in a college town but it's important you do your homework and know who you are renting from.
  2. Pay your rent on time. Set a reminder on your phone, mark it on your calendar and remind any roommates you have.
  3. Treat your property like your own.
  4. Let your landlord know about problems before they become serious and keep a record or your outreach in case they are not responsive.  When maintenance issues occur in your apartment or house like the refrigerator light going out, or windows not closing properly, it's important to let your landlord know as soon as possible so they do not get worse.
  5. Communicate clearly. Make sure that when communicating with your landlord you are specific about your needs. Be concise and avoid confusion.
  6. Be reachable and approachable. If you want your landlord to be responsive to your needs it helps if you are accessible and friendly. Be polite and make sure that you do not flake on any appointments you may have scheduled with each other.
  7. Don't be careless or high maintenance. Do your part to clean up after yourself and to take proper precautions to avoid potential damage.
  8. Don't let someone live with you who isn't on the lease.
  9. Follow the lease terms. This should be obvious, but read your lease from top to bottom and pay attention to the fine print. Don't jeapardize your standing as a renter or your security deposit by doing things like having a pet or painting walls if you are not permitted to.
  10. Have renter's insurance.