Will You Be My Good Neighbor?
‘renter’ can sometimes be a dirty word, but you can work to transcend these stereotypes
In some residential neighborhoods, the word “renter” is a dirty word. When some homeowners and property owners mutter the term it’s accompanied with a scowl and is unfurled off the tongue with a very specific intonation that screams pessimism. They see all renters in their community as the same. Regardless of how good you might be, to some you are another in a never-ending breed of residential cockroaches. (OK, so maybe it’s not that bad. But it’s bad. And you should care.)
Now, granted, part of the problem is that some homeowners paint everyone with the same brush. But that stereotype does come from someplace, so being a renter who understands their mindset can just as easily reverse it.
“Education is a big part of it,” said Sharyn Moss, onetime president of the Historic Randall Park Neighborhood in Eau Claire, an area with lots of renters.
Renters, by definition, are people who pay another for the use of their property. While this could be permanent, the likely scenario is that this arrangement is temporary. So the deduction based on those two tidbits is that renters don’t care about their property or neighborhood nearly as much, and their resulting behavior makes property values go down and their area appear trashy.
So the bad news is that, before you ever even meet your neighbors, some are already loathing your presence. But the good news is that it’s easy to win them over and reverse their thinking. At least until the next renter moves in …
Many of the complaints that come through Moss’s association (or she hears through her husband’s rental company, General Property Management) are simple things that a renter needs to be prepared for. “In general, just have a sense of respect for (your) house and neighborhood … and a sense of responsibility and self-sufficiency.”
The neighborhood associations and city have specifically outlined guidelines to follow (listed in the box next to this), but those merely list legal responsibilities. Being a good renter and neighborhood resident is about doing more than just avoiding tickets. Take a degree of pride in your new home. Try to take the time to interact with your neighbors. That doesn’t mean going door-to-door with fruit baskets. Just say a simple “hello” or respectfully chit-chat every so often. And if you’re really ambitious, get involved in your neighborhood association or help with various neighborhood betterment efforts.
Helpful Tips from Eau Claire’s
All buildings must be maintained in a state of good repair (painted at regular intervals, clean and sanitary, etc.).
Weeds and grass may not exceed 7 inches in height.
Sidewalks need to be free of obstructions and snow cleared within 24 hours of a snowfall
Don’t leave parked cars in the same spot on a street or alley for more than a day
Dispose of garbage in a sanitary manner
Dispose of yard waste and return cans within 24 hours of pickup
Don’t be unreasonably loud or disorderly
Keep animals leashed when off premises
Have no more than three cats and two dogs
Promptly remove animal droppings