The best way to resolve disputes is to be prepared. As a tenant or a landlord, you should be aware of the condition of the property being rented; you should know what is in your rental agreement; you should document any issues that do arise; and you should know what your legal rights and obligations are prior to entering into an agreement.
Walk Through the Apartment Together Prior to Move-In
To avoid disputes, it is a good idea to go on a walk through of the apartment together before anyone moves in. This gives you an opportunity as a tenant to make note of things that need to be fixed and to discuss with the landlord who should be responsible. A walk through is important to note and document damage caused by previous tenants to avoid being responsible for the damage later on.
Pay Attention to the Rental Agreement
Whether you are the landlord or the tenant, you should make sure that you agree with everything in the rental agreement before signing. It is a good idea to list the steps that you will take in the event of a dispute in the agreement. A landlord should make sure to include the expected time rent is to be paid each month, as well as deadlines for renewing a lease or vacating the property. Tenants should make note of when the rent is due and any other deadlines listed in the rental agreement. Knowing when rent and other important deadlines occur can help prevent disputes in the future. Clearly listing dates and other requirements for renting a property can also help prevent future issues.
Carefully Document Issues When They Do Arise
If an issue does arise with your apartment, make sure to document the problem. It is wise to put requests in writing and keep a copy for yourself. If necessary, take photos of problems with the property. Even if a dispute does not arise from an issue, having documentation of damage or requests made can protect you from future problems.
Know the Landlord-Tenant Laws in Your Area
It is important, whether you are a landlord or a tenant, to know what your rights are in the area you are renting. Laws differ from state to state. A landlord trying to rent Washington DC apartments would need to be aware of different laws than one renting apartments in Denver, Colorado. Knowing what your rights are as a tenant can help you decide on actions to take if a dispute with your landlord arises. Knowing what your obligations and rights are as a landlord can help you decide if being a landlord is the right way for you to go with a real estate purchase.
Taking your case to court should be a last resort. Try to resolve a dispute or prevent one from happening in the first place by following these steps. It will make your experience as a landlord or tenant a more enjoyable one.