Renter's Rules

Defuse the Situation Before Landlord-Tenant Disputes Get Ugly


police cars at scene of landlord-tenant dispute in hialeah florida

Landlord-tenant disputes happen with some regularity, but they can usually be tamed quickly and amicably. A little communication goes a long way, just like in any kind of relationship. The last thing you want to do is let a disagreement spin out of control. If you don't try to diffuse the situation early on, things can get ugly.

That's what happened between one landlord and his tenant on Thursday in Hialeah, Fla. The landlord fatally shot his tenant in the chest during a heated argument, WSVN-TV in Fort Lauderdale quoted authorities as saying. The tenant, a man in his 20s, reportedly was wielding a baseball bat when he confronted the landlord at a home the tenant had been renting. Police have not disclosed the cause of the argument, but NBC Miami reported that the tenant had been evicted from the home the day before. The landlord, who has not been identified, is not being charged with a crime, and the incident is being considered self-defense, police said.

Now this is an extreme example, but landlord-tenant disputes never have to go this far. With some simple precautions, there are ways in which landlords and tenants can avoid disputes. But in the case a dispute still arises, there are ways to stop it from escalating.

Avoid Disputes Altogether by Knowing Where You Stand

According to the Rentalutions blog, the primary cause of disputes between landlords and tenants is a misunderstanding regarding the lease agreement. To avoid this, before entering into a contract, landlords and tenants should thoroughly read through the entire rental agreement together and ask questions to ensure that each party has an understanding of their relationship and responsibilities. According to Rentalutions, if there is mutual understanding before the lease is signed, then the chance of a dispute arising later is significantly diminished.

If There Are Problems, Take Pictures and Keep Documentation

The less ambiguity, the better. According to legal site Nolo.com, landlords and tenants should keep copies of any correspondence and make notes of conversations about any problems. In the case of repairs, for example, tenants should write a letter requesting repairs and keep copies of that letter. The landlord should also keep a copy of the request letter, and keep documentation, receipts and pictures of when the issue was repaired.

The more hard "evidence" there is between parties when it comes to real estate matters, the less chance there is for blaming and "he-said, she-said" arguments. Anything less than hard-copied communication, according to Inman News, opens up a chance for miscommunication.

If an Altercation Arises, Communicate -- or Get Help

Keeping the communication lines open is key, but if talking it out just won't work, then get the issue resolved by using a local landlord-tenant dispute resolution service. Many cities offer landlord and tenant dispute services in order to prevent the situation heading to court, eviction -- or worse.

See more on landlord-tenant disputes:
Tenants of Complex Irate Over Mid-Lease Rent Hikes
When You Can Force Your Landlord To Listen To You
Tenants' Rights in Eviction: When Do Landlords Go Too Far?

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