Disputes can arise over many different issues involving lease agreements, tenant rights, responsibility for repairs to the property, rent, eviction and more. For most situations, lawyers and time spent in court should be the last resort for resolving these matters.
Landlords and tenants should be mindful of what they can do to help avoid litigation:
- Study the lease contract carefully and know your legal rights and responsibilities according to federal, state and local laws.
- When a problem arises, make sure the other party is notified immediately and be honest in all of your dealings.
- Make hard copies of and take notes on all correspondence with the property or the tenancy.
Settling a Continued Dispute Out of Court
Unfortunately, disputes cannot always be settled by a conversation between both parties. There are still a few steps that can be taken before lawyers and courts are involved. A third-party mediator can be hired to help create an agreement between the two parties. Mediators do not have any authority to bind the parties to an agreement. Mediation services are often rendered through private companies or state and local bar associations at little to no cost.
Going to Court
When open communication and mediation fail, the last resort is small claims court which can generally only hear limited types of cases. These cases must involve some amount of money, like overdue rent or a withheld security deposit.
Both parties will save on attorney’s fees because you are not required to bring an attorney to your case and the court fees are generally low and are sometimes even waived in certain instances or for certain parties. These courts are structured to provide a quick and efficient resolution because they are used as a last resort. In most cases, small claims courts are only authorized to hear cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed between $3,000 and $10,000.