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Five Reasons Tenants and Landlords May Need Legal Help

There are multiple stages with the life cycle of a tenant/landlord relationship in which one or both parties may seek out the professional support and guidance of an attorney. 

Of course, this has always been the case within the natural dynamic of the rental market, and it’s been even more so felt since the COVID-19 pandemic changed so many of the ways the rental market works. 

Whether you are a tenant having issues or a landlord with a challenging tenant situation, an established attorney and legal team can bring to the table the guidance and knowledge of the law that’s needed. Both tenants and landlords have rights, and it’s important to have the right representation when ensuring the rights are being protected and any violation of these rights are addressed.

While a “DIY” approach may seem tempting in terms of timeline, budget or just simplicity, sometimes hiring a professional from the start can help save time and money while increasing peace of mind over the longer term. 

Depending on the complexities of the specific situation and the immediacy of the issues the parties are facing, it may be time to hire a lawyer. 

Here are five common areas in which tenants and landlords may benefit from legal representation:

1. Lease A-to-Z: A lease agreement is the contractual foundation of the tenant/landlord relationship. It’s important to make sure that the rights of both parties are clearly spelled out and protected for the lifetime of the relationship. A lawyer with tenant/landlord experience can effectively and fairly negotiate the terms of the lease.

Whether it’s a new lease agreement or one that is already in place, your law firm can help make sure that it is not only fair and legal, but that any potential issues are addressed and rectified from the start, protecting everyone involved.

2. Rent Payment Disputes: Something that may seem so small or simple to start can become a full-blown crisis if a professional legal authority is not brought in to stop the problems while they can still be managed.

In situations where there is some rent-related dispute—from unlawful rent increases to lost payments to unreimbursed security deposits, a lawyer is oftentimes the best person to help parties understand and defend their rights, resolving outstanding conflicts to everyone’s satisfaction.

3. Ongoing Issues: Sometimes, an ongoing dispute needs attorney involvement to get on the right track to resolution. This might include something such as repair- or maintenance-related matters that are covered by the lease agreement but in reality are being ignored or mismanaged.  It may be related to an ongoing noise issue, or maybe a fundamental disagreement between the parties as to what a certain part of the lease means in reality.

As with many areas of the law, it’s not unusual for a demand letter, a request for mediation (or actual mediation) or, of course, escalating the issue to a court-related matter to move things along faster and sometimes more effectively than doing so without attorney involvement.

4. Eviction Defense: When the possibility of eviction comes into play, it’s crucial that legal help is brought in if possible and as soon as possible.

For a tenant possibly facing eviction, an attorney can help review the history of the relationship and agreement, determine if the threat is justified and, if applicable, make legal challenges to what might be a wrongful eviction. A good lawyer can also work with a landlord to make sure the eviction process is carried out legally and properly, with an eye toward avoiding challenges or potential pitfalls that would arise from a wrongful eviction.

5. Discrimination and Fair Housing Issues: This is a particularly sensitive area of the tenant/landlord law landscape, and one that, if violations are alleged or have in fact occurred, requires legal assistance whenever possible.

Landlords and tenants alike are protected by fair housing laws related to (and prohibiting) discrimination based on gender, race, religion, familial status, disability and more. An attorney can file a legally sound complaint with the applicable agency under fair housing laws and, if necessary, opt to pursue legal action.

A seasoned legal team can be of enormous assistance for those who believe they have been victims of discrimination, and it’s important to have a professional advocate with knowledge of the applicable laws on your side as early as possible.