Just when you’re patting yourself on the back for securing tenants, the party ends when the rent is habitually late, or worse, absent altogether. The same goes for the other side of the coin, should tenants have their rights regularly disregarded by a landlord. Either way, the best practice regarding rental disputes is to do all we can to see they don’t happen. Here are some tips in that direction:

  • Do your homework – whether you’re the lessee or the lessor, study the federal, state and local municipal laws as well as every detail in any lease agreement.
  • Speak up – As soon as any problem rears its head, notify the other party ASAP. Try to be fair, open and honest. Start forging communication lines rather than battle lines.
  • Keep records – take note of dates and keep hard copies of any correspondence regarding any problems with the property or the tenancy. There’s no excuse with today’s technology as one can take screenshots of messaging, photos of infringements and store all matters regarding rental disputes on ‘the cloud’ to recall as needed.
  • Be quick about settling matters’ – before you are taken before a mediating ombudsman or the Renting Housing Tribunal, or the small claims courts, by all means try to settle out of court and save time, money and tons of stress.

Despite one’s best efforts, rental disputes may arise – here are the most common reasons:

  • Not paying rent to the landlord.
  • Asking an excessive amount of rent/ or dispute due to sudden unscheduled increase in rent.
  • Not refunding the deposit of the tenant.
  • Damage to property – as in the tenant outing hole in the landlord’s door or a landlord laying his fist into the tenant’s table.
  • Eviction without a court order.
  • Disconnection of services (such as, electricity) without a court order.
  • Not issuing receipts, in respect of payments made, to the tenant.
  • Discrimination by the landlord of the tenant on ground of race, sex and so on.
  • Unacceptable living conditions, such as overcrowding or hygienic issues.
  • Insufficient maintenance or repairs of a dwelling.

Handy Glossary (in order of importance for rental disputes)

Landlord: (a.k.a. the Lessor) owner of the rented property – whether represented by an agent, or in person, or through a trust or a company.
Tenant: (a.k.a. the Lessee) person or persons renting premises from an entity – either a landlord, or a trust, or a company.
Ombudsman: an independent body/person resolving rental disputes including those between landlords and tenants.
Rental Housing Tribunal: an independent body resolving disputes between landlords and tenants of dwellings for housing purposes.
Summons: an order, personally served, to appear before the Tribunal.
Eviction: an official order obtained from court by the landlord in a rental dispute forcing the tenant to vacate the dwelling.

Rentals are an excellent, regular income stream. Managed well, lessening rental disputes goes a long way to watching our back and securing better co-operation in the process.