Handling a Landlord Dispute
Unfortunately, disputes can arise between a landlord and tenant over the rights and responsibilities of each party. Here are a few guidelines to help:
- Avoid disputes. Refer to your lease agreement to see what has been agreed to in the first place. Also get to know your legal rights at the federal, state and local levels. HUD offers state-by-state assistance for renters.
- Notify your landlord immediately if there is a problem. Don’t let it fester.
- Keep copies of all correspondence with your landlord regarding any issues that arise.
- Mediate the problem. Mediation is a voluntary meeting between two parties with an impartial third party who can find areas of agreement and help resolve differences. Often inexpensive (compared to lawyers), the mediation agreements can sometimes help resolve issues without courts and lawyers.
If the differences still cannot be resolved, you may need to pursue legal action in small claims court. Violations of the Fair Housing Act can be filed online.
Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act is a federal act that protects buyers and renters from discrimination. Under the Fair Housing Act, a landlord or seller cannot discriminate against a renter or buyer based upon race, color, nationality, religion, sex, disability or familial status (the number of children you have). Despite continuing efforts to strengthen the act, there are continuing reports of discrimination.
If you feel you are discriminated against, you can file a complaint with the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). Learn more at HUD about the basics and what to do if you think your rights have been violated.