We rent in a great situation, a 28 unit townhouse complex owned by a family with several similar properties. Previously, we rented an illegal basement suite with a difficult landlord and were seeking some serious independence from his helicopter land lording! We used to pay rent in cash at a far off location, had difficult co-tenants, and had to fight to get our damage deposit back when we moved. After that experience, we were sure to consider the landlord and their circumstances as much as the home itself. I’ve heard many stories, from unpleasant to downright horror, about landlords who probably care too much about their homes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s their property, but when you sign a lease you are entitled to make that property your home.
Your landlord may not even want you to hang a thing on the walls, let alone have you undertake a garden or light fixture change. And even worse, they may break basic tenancy laws such as entering your suite without permission. We personally decided we wanted to live in a unit independent from other tenants (and the landlord!) because we had so many problems sharing a house with two other suites. Our issues ranged from no hot water, theft of items in public areas, to off the charts utility bills that went unpaid by the other two tenants, resulting in disconnection of service. We were thrilled our townhouse also included its own hook up for a washer and dryer, a huge feature we thought would be impossible to find!
Only you know what you need in a landlord, and although the landlord is interviewing you to see if you are a fit for them, consider the relationship for you. If you have a difficult landlord, getting them to bend may not even be worth your time. My personal experience has me leaning towards rental companies or people who see their property as a business. The less emotional investment they have in the property, the better. You intend to improve their home while you are there and leave it in better shape than you found it, and if the landlord doesn’t quickly see your intentions, I would be wary to put too much time into any changes to the home.