Landlord – tenant battles can be a long and messy affair if they’re not handled appropriately.
Most landlord – tenant relationships are good ones, but there are always some that go astray for any number of reasons. Maybe you have experienced this yourself at one point in your life or maybe you are experiencing it now and don’t really know what to do or how to handle the situation.
And that’s where this post is going to be crucial. In this post, we’ll outline five ways you can handle any landlord – tenant battle and the best steps you can take towards resolution.
Find Out Your Rights
The first thing to do is find out what your rights are as either a landlord or a tenant, whichever position concerns you.
Both tenants and landlords have legal responsibilities and rights that they must adhere to when either renting or letting property. If any disputes arise, you need to find out what position you’re in first, and this starts by knowing where you stand.
If you know your rights first, then it’s quite possible that the issue won’t go any further because you have proof that you have done the right thing. For example, if a tenant signs a fixed-term tenancy agreement, they don’t have the right to suddenly break it and move out. This is a document that binds them to pay rent at that property for a specific period of time.
In this case, you as the landlord know your rights and you know that you’re not the party that’s in the wrong, so you’re in a much better position.
Therefore, the dispute would be over quickly. So one way to solve the issue quickly is to know your rights and responsibilities first. There are many resources online that will help you understand your obligations more as either a tenant or a landlord.
Talk About It
Rather than head straight for the lawyers and a court case, the smartest thing to do is sit down and discuss the issues at hand first.
Find somewhere that is in public where you can both discuss this issue. Even do this at the rental agency’s office if necessary. Ideally, any discussions should take place face-to-face rather than on the phone, via email or text messages.
In this situation, both parties can vent out whatever their concerns are and then clear everything out. The landlord can clear the air and discuss his/her issues with the tenant and the tenant can do the same. In many cases, the dispute can be settled just by following this approach first. A face-to-face meeting with both parties attempting to be as rational as possible should always be the first step before heading down any other conflict resolution paths.
If you can hear the other person’s perspective, then you may find common ground to resolve the dispute. .
If sitting down with each other and discussing the problem doesn’t work, then try professional mediation. Mediation is a process of assisted negotiation and communication that both parties go through to try and come to an agreement regarding the issue.
Sitting down in a controlled environment with a professional mediator is often a great way to resolve almost any dispute. A Key thing to understand with mediation is that it’s 100% voluntary for both parties.
One of the major advantages with a controlled environment is that it gives both parties a say in the matter at hand. Outside of a controlled environment, emotions can get the better of people and not everyone gets to participate as much as they’d like.
Each person in this process retains full decision-making power so no legal counsel can ever impose decisions on you using the mediation process. It’s also entirely confidential, so both parties can voice their concerns and opinions on the issue at hand without fear that it will ever become public.
It’s also devoid of any bias because the mediator in this process is required to have a balanced and equal responsibility to both parties; they should never favour one particular result for one party over the other party.
Arbitration is the next logical step up from mediation if that fails to resolve the issue. It’s a similar process to mediation but in this case, you’ll have an independent arbitrator present acting as the third party. In fact, you may have more than one present, up to three or even more than that depending on each circumstance.
The primary difference here comparing to mediation is that the decision-making process is removed from your hands. It’s the panel of arbitrators who will decide the result and award it to one of the participating parties. You’ll still get to have your say,but you won’t get to decide the outcome.
Arbitration procedures are also privy to federal and state civil laws so they must be adhered to in this process. You’re also free to choose an arbitrator of your choice, which can be quite advantageous. For example, imagine the dispute involves electrical wiring in the home you rented, then you could appoint someone who is an expert in this field as your independent arbitrator.
It’s a more complex process than mediation but it has its place and could be the logical choice to resolve your particular issue.
This is the last resort and one you should look to avoid as much as possible. Obviously, going to court costs a lot of money. Secondly, most issues should be able to be resolved if you use either mediation, arbitration or any other methods listed above.
If you’ve exhausted all other avenues and litigation is the only option left then you will need to take the case to the civil or criminal court. Litigation can often be a lengthy and complex process whereby the result will be determined by either a jury or a judge. It can be settled out of court as well if you’re both able to reach an amicable agreement.
The process for litigation generally follows these phases:
- Litigation before the lawsuit
- Pre-suit negotiation
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Motion practice
- Post-trial litigation
It can be a long and drawn-out process that should be avoided as much as possible. However, if you think that there is no other option besides pursuing legal avenues then litigation will be your next step for resolving any landlord – tenant battles.
In any cases where there are disputes, you should refer to the processes we have outlined in this blog post. If you’re currently going through a landlord – tenant dispute and want advice from a legal expert,don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and find out where you stand.