To manage a difficult landlord, it is as simple as sticking to the rules in your lease. Keep your apartment clean, keep any outside area tidy, follow rules about guests, be quiet, and pay your utility bills on time. It all helps when an issue arises.
If you’re about to sign or are at the beginning of your lease, it’s a good idea to go over any questions you might have with your landlord from day one. That includes even minor stuff like asking about what type of nails you can use to hang pictures, what modifications you can make to the apartment and even what / if any type of pets are permitted. Landlords all have a particular thing they care about more than others, so it’s always a good idea to clear everything up from the start.
The first step is communication. If you need something done and your landlord isn’t responsive, make sure you are being clear about your request and why it is important. Landlords get all kinds of weird requests from tenants and they might view some as not important. So, when you need something, state what you need and include the reasons why.
Secondly, document everything in writing from the second you do the initial walkthrough until you finally move out of your apartment. Essentially, any time you communicate with your landlord, it’s worth documenting. Hold onto those documents until your lease is up and you have your security deposit back.
Finally, I always suggest speaking with your neighbours. Chances are that if you’re having problems with your landlord, you’re not the only one. If you live in an apartment complex, talk with other people in the building to see if they’re experiencing similar issues. If after talking with people you realise it’s a building-wide problem, you can band together to talk to the landlord(s), property management or body corporate as a group. Or, even better, other tenants might have solutions to your specific problems that they can offer you.
Unfortunately tenant laws and tribunals in Vietnam can be challenging and are rarely pursued. That said, if an issue comes up that the landlord won’t help you resolve, you will need to be creative. From my experience, a heart-to-heart talk over a cup of tra tends to go a long way. However, if all else fails, sharpen up on your negotiating skills and do what you can to find common ground.