How do I Resolve Landlord-Tenant Disputes?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Landlord-tenant disputes are extremely common and can cause stress, frustration, and even violence in extreme situations. Being involved in a landlord-tenant dispute can disrupt the peaceful enjoyment of a property and raise worries about poor reviews or references in the future. There are many ways to resolve landlord-tenant disputes in a rational, fair, and safe manner.

A good lease or rental agreement reviewed by both parties may help prevent landlord-tenant disputes.
A good lease or rental agreement reviewed by both parties may help prevent landlord-tenant disputes.

One of the most important ways to resolve a dispute about landlord-tenant issues is to have a thorough knowledge of the law. Most regions have very clearly delineated rights and responsibilities for both tenants and landlords, though these may vary by jurisdiction. Some non-profit organizations produce pamphlets and books that explain each law precisely to help eliminate confusion. Having a clear understanding of the law can help determine the difference between a rude or impolite action and an unlawful offense. While both situations may require resolutions, it is important to know whether a disagreement is simply a personal issue or grounds for a legal case.

Try to discuss the matter calmly to reach a solution. If either party is finding it difficult to stay calm in person or on the phone, consider conducting the discussion and negotiation through email. This can also help in the instance of a lawsuit, as email communications can serve as evidence as to exactly what was said. If the other party begins to get irrational, ask for a cooling off period.

Before dragging landlord-tenant disputes off to court, consider having legal arbitration instead. Less expensive in many cases, arbiter decisions are binding and carry the same legal weight as a court decision, most of the time. If arbitration is not an acceptable option, consider hiring a third-party mediator and agreeing to abide by his or decision. Either of these options can save both parties a considerable amount of expense, and may result in a faster decision than a court case.

Consider going to court if there are no other means of resolving the dispute and if the case has a legal basis. At this point, both parties may want to get lawyers involved to handle the dispute, rather than adding to the wrangling. Having a court dispute between a landlord and tenant can certainly strain the relationship on the home front, but it is important for both sides to remain civil and professional. Taking retaliatory action will most certainly hurt a court case.

When dealing with landlord-tenant disputes, it is vitally important to keep an eye out for warning signs of danger. If an unreasonable person progresses to making threats of violence, do not hesitate to take action. Go to the police and get a restraining order, if necessary, and do not stay on a rented property if it feels unsafe. While the majority of landlord-tenant disputes are solved without any chance of violence, high tempers can make for the occasional dangerous situation.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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