Any time during a tenancy a dispute may arise between a tenant and their landlord. Even if the relationship between landlord and tenant is a friendly one, different issues can cause a breakdown of communication and lead to disagreements. Fortunately, for both landlords and tenants there are several different methods to settling a dispute. And while some of them do not require the help of an attorney, disputes that cannot easily be settled might end up in small claims court where the help of an experienced attorney will be valuable.
A landlord-tenant relationship is first and foremost a legal one. Both parties have rights and responsibilities, and their relationship is based on a contract. When an issue arises based on this relationship, keeping an open line of communication, as well as staying advised of applicable laws, rights and responsibilities should be the first steps in resolution.
Unfortunately, some landlord-tenant disputes are not easily remedied. When communication fails, a landlord or tenant may want to involve a mediator to help assist with the resolution. Mediation is a form of dispute resolution that allows a third party to work with the landlord and tenant to form an agreement. Although mediators do not have legal authority and their agreement is not legally binding, their services are typically more affordable than other types of dispute resolution.
In the event communication and mediation fails to resolve the issue, both the landlord and tenant can seek the help of an attorney. In most cases, after the initial attempts of resolution have failed, the dispute is settled in small claims court. And while most states do not require an attorney to represent a party in small claims court, it may be beneficial for both the landlord and tenant to receive legal advice from an attorney.