All landlords hope for smooth sailing at every phase of the rental process. However, from time to time tenant disputes will invariably arise. The best way to handle these tenant disputes can depend on a number of factors.
The following are some tips for resolving tenant disputes and issues that come up with residents:
- Know the Law
Landlords can avoid a number of problems just by being aware of the specific laws regarding both tenant and landlord rights. Every state has a different set of laws regarding issues that range from acceptable late fee amounts to tenant screening parameters. Knowing the law can help keep landlords in compliance and better able to communicate with tenants on solid ground.
- Work On Communication
One of the biggest factors in many tenant disputes is often a lack of clear communication. Whether the terms required weren’t communicated clearly or the issue escalates and communication breaks down, this can be a major source of conflict in relationships. Landlords should strive to make good communication and positive relations a priority in their dealings with tenants. Talking in person instead of by phone, text or email can also be more effective for reaching a resolution.
- Document and Keep Records of Everything
With any potential legal issue, landlords will want to ensure they will have the best case possible. One of the best courses of action where this is concerned is to keep records of everything that transpires related to the issue. From photos of damage and copies of documents to a log book of all interactions with the tenant, having tangible evidence to bring into court will bolster a landlord’s case.
- Consider Mediation or Arbitration
If a landlord and tenant are at an impasse in a tenant dispute, hiring a professional mediator or arbitrator can offer a solution. Some are even trained specifically in landlord-tenant disputes. It should be noted that while a mediator is simply an objective third party, using the arbitration process will result in both parties agreeing to submit to their ruling no matter what it is.
- Use the Courts System
If the issue cannot be resolved any other way, legal action may be required. Landlords can use the small claims court system; however, in some cases civil or criminal court may be more appropriate. While landlords may choose to represent themselves, enlisting the help of an experienced attorney may be advisable for more complicated matters.
- Pre-Screen All Tenants
While tenant screening is not a guarantee against ever having a landlord-tenant dispute, it can greatly minimize the risk of problem tenants. Tenant screening services can help with determining financial viability, credit history, eviction history and criminal background. Applicants that have few if any issues in their past will invariably make better tenants who are less likely to cause problems.
Disagreements or tenant disputes are an inevitable part of being a landlord, especially those renting out multiple properties. Finding efficient, effective ways to resolve these tenant disputes will create a smoother experience for both landlords and tenants. Landlords can use these six tips to help minimize issues and resolve tenant disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible.