Settling Landlord and Tenant Disputes

Common Disagreements and Disputes

Disagreements occur routinely among landlord and tenants mostly over rules and regulations, rent increases, responsibility for repairs, security deposits, and early termination of the lease. Trying to resolve the disagreement between the parties should be the first choice. However in some instances, you may need to hire a lawyer and litigate the matter.

How to Avoid Disputes and Disagreements

  • Educate yourself and know your rights and responsibilities under federal, state, and local law. For instance, there are penalties for violating security deposit laws. If you are landlord, you should be aware of these laws. If you are the tenant, you also need to know your rights.
  • Negotiate clear and concise terms under the lease or rental agreement. Make sure all parties understand everything. Dummy proof your lease or rental agreement.
  • Keep communication liens open if a dispute does resolve and try and work it out right away. It's best to talk about whatever issues are bothering the parties.
  • Retain all copies of correspondence and documents. Keep notes and timelines of conversations and/or any receipts for repairs, photos or reports.
  • Concessions work if you are the person that has violated the rules.
  • Work hard to settle disputes. Most people are reasonable.

Measure Landlords Should Take to Avoid Disputes

  • Have a good lease agreement in place.
  • Enforce a strict policy on unpaid rent and make sure the tenant is aware prior to signing the lease. Charge a late fee if the tenant is more than 5 days late. This way they will pay their rent on time.
  • Respond to repair requests promptly.
  • Screen your tenants well, check their credit and get references.

Measure Tenants Should Take to Avoid Disputes

  • Concede when you are wrong
  • Change what you are doing that is causing the dispute
  • Keep communication lines open
  • Get everything in writing


If you can't work out an agreement on your own, consider mediation by a neutral third party negotiator. Decisions made by mediators are non-binding, but help to work out a mutually agreeable resolution to disputes. Mediation is less costly than arbitration or litigation.


If mediation fails, you can always try arbitration. Arbitrations are binding. Or if you do not want to arbitrate, depending on the amount of the claim, you can file a small claims court action or civil action.

Small Claims Court and Civil Court

Small claims actions are usually for matters that are somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000. Some states do not allow you to bring a lawyer to court with you. Civil court actions are more costly and you can have an attorney litigate on our behalf.

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