FAQs Regarding Landlord Tenant Dispute Resolution

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on July 25, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

For landlords and tenants, lawsuits should not be the first and only choice; there are other options to help resolve any landlord / tenant disputes.

Ques. How is it possible to avoid disputes between landlords and tenants?

Ans. Quite unavoidable, landlords and tenants can often get involved in disputes leading them to the hiring of lawyers and taking each other to court. Minor in nature, the disagreement may be over a small increase in rent, who is responsible for repairs and maintenance or the return of a security deposit. Whatever, the disagreement, don’t turn it into a legal wrangle, resorting to lawyers and litigation for resolving landlord / tenant disputes should not be your first thought.

Legal problems can be avoided if both landlords and tenants follow the tips below:

  1. All involved in the rental game should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under federal, state and local law.
  2. The terms of the lease or rental agreement should be clearly defined and not couched in ambiguous terms.
  3. A landlord and tenant should keep their lines of communication open. Any disputes or disagreements e.g. landlord’s right to enter the tenant’s apartment, should be resolved by thrashing out the issue, instead of immediately getting on the phone to a lawyer.
  4. A landlord / tenant should keep copies of any correspondence and notes about conversations relating to any issues they might have. For example, requests for repairs should be given in writing by the tenant and a copy kept on file. On his / her part, the landlord should retain the request for repairs, noting down when and how the repairs were done.

Ques. If thrashing out the problem has not helped and we still disagree, what should be done next?

Ans. If a landlord and tenant cannot come to an agreement, in spite of talking it out, yet, still want to continue their rental agreement, mediation by a neutral, third party should be considered. The mediator may not have the legal powers of a judge, but can work to find a mutually acceptable solution to settle the dispute. A publicly funded programme, mediation is available at little or not cost.

To get more information on mediation programmes, the mayor’s or city manager’s office can be called to find out the person responsible for handling landlord / tenant housing disputes.

Ques. If mediation has failed to resolve the issue, what is the last step before going to a lawyer?

Ans. If mediation fails, then the only recourse is to seek a legal remedy. If the dispute is regarding the return of the security deposit money, the case can be taken to the small claims court for a speedy, inexpensive resolution of disputes involving relatively small amounts of money. Keep in mind, a small claims court remedial measures are limited to the awarding of money damages, with the maximum amount one can claim varying from $3,000 to $7,500.

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