While it would certainly be nice if everything was always smooth sailing with tenants that is not always the case. The simple fact is that from time to time, you are going to find yourself in a dispute with tenants. Making certain that you are prepared for inevitable disputes can help you to avoid being caught unaware.
Being proactive and understanding the law is the best way to handle a potential dispute before it even begins. Many potential problems that can arise with tenants occur simply because one party is unaware of their rights or even that they may have broken an agreement. By taking the time to become familiar with the law, you can become a better landlord and avoid potential disputes.
While it is completely natural to become upset when there is a problem, it is imperative that you keep your temper in check even if your tenant does not. Attempt to remain calm and handle the situation on your own. You may need to seek assistance in court if your tenant does not cooperate but try to maintain that as a last resort.
Many of the disputes you may encounter with tenants can be resolved when discussed by both sides. It is quite possible that you may be able to find a reasonable solution through communication. In the long run, trying to work out the issue on your own is always the easier and less expensive option. You may find it helpful to meet in person if your previous communications have been over the phone. When meeting in person, make sure you do so in a neutral place.
Requesting the assistance of a professional mediator may also prove to be helpful in resolving disputes if trying to talk it out has not worked. In fact, property dispute mediators are now becoming more common in many states. Such professionals have received specific training to help with disputes that can arise between tenants and landlords.
If you have tried everything else to no avail, arbitration may also be an option to consider. While arbitration is similar in nature to mediation, it is important to understand that the results of arbitration are legally binding. The role of an arbitrator is to listen to both sides of the issue and then present a ruling. Both parties will be bound to the ruling issued.
As a property owner, your best defense is to ensure that you document everything. For instance, if your tenant has a history of breaking the rules of your lease agreement, document all of the details and the dates. Make sure that you maintain a file for each of your tenants and record any issue that transpires. In the event that you find yourself in a dispute with your tenant, demonstrating that you have kept documentation could dissuade him or her from deciding to take you to court. If all else fails and you do find yourself in court, keeping such a record can be to your benefit.
Matt Angerer is the CEO and Co-Founder of VerticalRent. A veteran landlord and real estate investor, Angerer brings a unique angle to the business of owning rental units. Once a cubicle jockey in the corporate rat race, Matt desired a more fulfilling approach to building assets and financial security. Witnessing his father (John) create a small nest egg of rental properties, Mr. Angerer realized the power of wealth building assets. Inspired by what the "Average Joe" could accomplish, Matt set out to create an easy-to-use rental property management software for the 40 million landlords across America that own between 1 and 50 rental units.
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