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Resolving tenant-landlord disputes without litigation

Going to court before the judge can be very costly to each party involved. Unfortunately, many landlord-tenant cases escalate before either party considers other options. Here are eight tips to help manage disputes about property. Whether you are a tenant or landlord, you can use these options to work out a manageable solution.

  • Know the law. When you know and understand your rights and responsibilities under the real estate law, you can avoid disputes. Make sure you keep up with current regulations and rules. Have an annual meeting with your attorney to discuss the lease before signing it. If you stage a protest, such as not paying rent or turning off the heat to the building, check with your attorney to make sure it does not weaken your position.
  • Stay calm in a situation. Disputes are inevitable, but when each party remains cool, workable solutions happen without legal threats.
  • Document everything. A paper trail is a great defense when you are having a dispute. Keep a file with all correspondence about everything. Take pictures of problems. Save pictures and documents to the cloud. If you lose your phone, you might lose valuable evidence.
  • Talk about the situation. Remember to stay calm, no matter how angry you get. Even if you are justifiably angry, expressing negative emotions only widens the chasm. When you work with the other party, there might be an honest answer that will save you both money and time.
  • Get a mediator. Talk to your attorney about ways to resolve the situation without going to court. Know your options.
  • When mediation does not solve the problem, arbitration might be a better answer. The arbitration is binding, which means that it could go either way and you will have to adhere to the ruling.
  • If you do have to get lawyers involved, you may be able to settle out of court. Tell your attorney you are looking for a cost-effective solution.
  • Small claims court might be an appropriate solution for some situations. Whether this is a good choice for your issue is a complex matter that can only be determined by the actual situation.

Litigation as a last resort

Landlord/tenant disputes may happen, but one does not have to break the bank when you have a good approach to finding a solution. If you do have to take the case all the way to civil or criminal court, make sure you have a lawyer who understands landlord/tenant law. An attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants will often have better insight into an appropriate resolution.

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