When a tenant gets into a dispute with their landlord, it can seem at first like the landlord holds the upper hand. That said, tenants have legal rights when it comes to their relationship with their landlord, if the Tenant knows how and when to exercise them. Here are four things you should do if you get into a dispute with your landlord:
- Go over the terms of your lease agreement
- One of the most essential parts of most landlord-tenant disputes is the lease agreement. Often, these disputes can turn on what, exactly, is in the agreement, including your obligations and the obligations of your landlord. You should ALWAYS make sure you have a copy of your lease agreement, signed by both you and the landlord, in the event that you wind up in court over your dispute.
- Retain all communications with your landlord
- In any type of lawsuit, evidence is essential, and landlord-tenant disputes are no exception. If, for example, you are claiming that you were illegally forced out of your apartment, it can help to keep records of that exchange. These records can also help establish timelines to determine if they have been responding promptly to issues raised with them, such as issues with broken utilities or insect or rodent infestations in your building.
- Keep records of any problems you experience
- In addition to keeping records of communications, you should also take notes on any problems you experience in your apartment, including when they happened and how your landlord responded. This will keep them from denying these problems if you wind up confronting them in court. It can also protect you if they try to argue that you are responsible for whatever issues arose at that time. If possible, record any noise or other exchanges vital to your claims.
- Consider seeking out a mediator
- While going to court may be appropriate for some people, many landlord-tenant disputes can be settled out of court through mediation. In fact, some courts will order tenants and landlords to go into mediation to settle their issues outside of the legal system. This has the benefit of being potentially cheaper and less time-consuming than a full court case, but it is not for everyone.
- Speak to a lawyer
- Finally, if your dispute with your landlord has escalated to a point where resolving things out of court is no longer an option, you should speak to a lawyer. They can help you figure out the best strategy to take, and help you exercise your rights as a tenant. They can also give you the best possible chance at winning your case, should you go to court.
If you are in a dispute with your landlord and want to know more about protecting yourself, do not wait until it is too late. You should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling landlord-tenant disputes, who can advise you on your rights and help you avoid the risk of eviction. Contact the skilled landlord-tenant attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. Contact us online, toll-free (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744 to discuss your rights and the solutions available to you.