Nobody envisions a major conflict when they sign a lease, whether they’re the landlord or the tenant. The relationship always starts out with high hopes and positive feelings. However, it can quickly turn sour depending on how both parties act and communicate over the course of the living arrangement. You could find yourself in the middle of many residential rental disputes.
It’s in the landlords’ best interest to remain responsive to tenant complaints. It’s also in the renters’ best interest to obey the terms of the contract and notify ownership of any issues in a reasonable manner. Proper communication and understanding of situations is the best path to landlord-tenant harmony.
However, most likely disputes will arise. What are some courses of action landlords can take to negotiate residential rental disagreements and get back on track with business? Here are 5 suggestions that landlord and tenant can use to handle residential rental disputes.
Action Items for Handling Residential Rental Disputes
Establish a Paper Trail
First and foremost, get everything in writing.
Just like a lease requires both parties to sign, future agreements and correspondences have more legal and persuasive power if they’re written down. Track issues in a format that will provide a date and time stamp.
Residents need to provide ample proof of any issues that arise using photographs and documentation. Landlords need to do the same on their end. Don’t ever assume someone will believe your side of the story without concrete evidence to back it up.
Likewise, don’t assume that tenants are on the same page as you if you didn’t get any post-lease agreements in writing.
Try a Third-Party Mediator
If things have escalated to the point where it’s difficult to set up a face-to-face meeting or get a response from your tenants about the issue, consider bringing in a professional mediator to guide the conversation. It’s a cost-effective way to discuss all sides of the issue before serious measures like court. It also signals that both parties are amenable to settling the matter short of serious legal proceedings.
Mediation provides a chance for everyone to air their grievances in an honest, controlled environment. It’s a great way to help solve all your residential rental disputes.
Utilize Management Services
There’s generally a lot of “he said, she said” back and forth during a dispute, some of which can be difficult to verify. Working through a residential property manager like Onerent tends to centralize documents, maintenance records, rent receipts, so that everyone can stay on the same page and possibly head off disputes before they erupt.
Many landlords find it helpful to let licensed experts handle the logistics of renting. This helps them achieve peace of mind knowing that they have access to 24/7 support.
Take It to Court
Before you take a tenant to small claims court, make sure there are no other outlets to solve the problem. Do ample research on tenants’ and property owners’ rights in your city and state. If the rental disagreement gets this far, you’ll be glad that you kept documentation throughout the course of the lease.
It is a burden you’d rather not deal with but you’ll have to file a claim and appear in court to receive any kind of legal verdict.
Take Caution with Eviction
Eviction is the worst-case scenario for a landlord-tenant relationship. If you’re simply not getting your rent money after repeated reminders or notice your renter is in direct violation of their lease, and you have tried all other avenues of communication and compromise, then eviction might be your only option.
Landlords need to be careful how they approach eviction. Laws vary from state to state and they usually favor the tenants’ rights above all else. Taking matters into your own hands is a foolish and illegal step that can set you back. So stick strictly to the eviction rule book and do plenty of research before acting.
Disagreements are frustrating and can bring out the worst in people. When you find yourself facing down a residential rental dispute, try to approach it with an open mind. Have a genuine desire solve the issue. Personal attacks, yelling, and backhanded tactics from either side are counterproductive. Staying organized on a daily basis and keeping the lines of communication open can help you resolve disputes before they blow out of proportion.
Questions for Discussion: Have you ever had a conflict with a tenant or landlord? How was it resolved? What other advice can you give for handling residential rental disputes?