Having a Landlord as Your Friend

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Individuals who meet through business-related transactions strike up a friendship as they discover common interests and values. Becoming friends with your landlord who enjoys many of the same things you enjoy can be enticing, and it might be a mutually satisfying relationship for you both. But it is important that both you and your landlord are aware of the pitfalls of dual relationships, which are characterized by individuals developing a relationship that can be negatively influenced by another relationship that exists between the two of them. (See Reference 4.)

Dual Relationships

Dual relationships occur when two individuals who are involved through a business arrangement or professional service develop a friendship. Inequality may exist in dual relationships, because one individual has more authority or power in the business or professional relationship than the other individual. Landlords have the power to evict tenants, while tenants usually have little control over their landlords. Other examples of similar dual relationships include doctors and patients, counselors and clients, and supervisors and main-line workers. (See Reference 4.)

Landlords and Tenants

Some landlords rent out their property under a well-defined contract. Other landlords use an oral or written agreement called a Tenancy at Will. A Tenancy at Will is less specific and is easier for either party to terminate, generally requiring only two-weeks to 30-days notice by either party. State and federal laws define the responsibilities and rights of landlords and tenants, but the less specific the contract, the more difficult it is for either party to prevail during a dispute. In a perfect world, each party is reliable and performs her responsibilities as defined by the contract. But the world isn't perfect, and problems arise. The best contract to have with a friend who is your landlord is very detailed and specific. The way you handle difficulties with your rental agreement—the basis of your business relationship—will affect your personal relationship. One way to handle difficulties is through third party arbitration or a surrogate in your place. (See References 1 and 4.)


On some level, a friendship fulfills a need for both individuals. Because life is dynamic and needs change over time, friendships are not static but require maintenance to endure. Sometimes friendships simply wane over time, but at other times a breach in the expectations of the friendship can bring the relationship to an abrupt halt or create unpleasantness for both parties. Being in a dual relationship with your landlord carries the risk of becoming an interrupted friendship. For instance, if a needed repair is not made in a timely manner, a tenant who is also a friend of the landlord might consider the lack of attention to the repair as a personal slight as well as a breach of the tenant-landlord relationship. Perceived neglect or indifference can result in a broken friendship. (See References 2, 3 and 5 -- Page 298.)


If you enter into a landlord-tenant agreement with someone who is already your friend, you have the opportunity to discuss problems and establish expectations for how business disagreements will be handled before you make the final decision to rent from your friend. When you didn't know your landlord beforehand but you begin to share personal information, socialize with each other and become more than acquaintances, it is helpful to be aware of the potential problems involved in the friendship. As a friend to your landlord, don't expect special privilege or waiving of rules. Keep the tenant-landlord relationship separate from your friendship. Expectations make or break a relationship. If you expect your landlord to treat you the same way they treat other tenants, and if they respond in kind, then friendship with your landlord can be a mutually enjoyable relationship. (See References 2, 3 and 4.)