Handle Billing Disputes – Renting

Your landlord may have all the authority, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop and fold.

Apartment living is delightful, from enjoying rent payments that are often cheaper than a monthly mortgage to never having to mow the lawn or shovel the driveway. The downside is when things do go wrong which is often stemming from financial disputes with a landlord or building manager, then suddenly it’s just no fun at all.

Some apartment dwellers complain about their building manager stealing things from their apartment, but the owner of the building can’t see what’s wrong or at least doesn’t believe to what their renters say about the manager. So instead of getting rid of their personnel, they’d end up releasing the tenant. Some lose half their security deposit because the building manager didn’t mind walking-through the unit before the move was finished and before the tenant hire a cleaning service to clean her apartment.

Think about this: You can do everything right, and it may not matter much.

Here are some strategies that should help alleviate your headaches about the billing dispute with your landlord.

rent1Know the facts. Gather and understand your rights as a tenant. Don’t be outraged unless you know that what you’ve been bragging about is right. You should read your lease. Familiarize yourself with your state laws and tenant’s rights.

“That should help you know if you really have a case or if the landlord does,” Jonathan Eppers says, co-founder and CEO of RadPad, an apartment search and rent-payment website.

For instance, Eppers points out that it would help to know if you’ve given your landlord “a holding deposit or a security deposit. In some cases, a holding deposit cannot be returned, even if a renter decides to not move into an apartment rental after signing a lease,” he says.

 

rent12Document everything. This is really important to do and hopefully you’ve been doing that from the beginning. It should be from the moment you did a pre-inspection tour with the landlord or building manager. The first line of defense when it comes to spotting any problems or damages that may need repair.

Take a video while inspecting a unit with a tenant before a move-in and after a move-out. This way, everybody will believe that what you’re explaining to them is true. After all, if you’re not going to get your security deposit back, it’s likely due to some disagreement about damages or cleanliness. A picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth a thousand pictures that tells a lot of story.

 

landlord2Communicate. Having communication doesn’t mean every thing’s going to be fine. Sometimes, disputes can accumulate and this could end badly. And it’s really understandable. Try to be professional and set your emotions aside. You may be firmly in the right, and if you’re out of the money you desperately need, your emotions may be all over the place.

“As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey. Reputable landlords will be willing to work with you in a timely and professional manner if you approach the situation in a reasonable way,” Donovan Reese says, the president of Renters warehouse based in Phoenix who manages thousands of properties throughout the U.S.

The biggest question here is: Do you have a reputable landlord? Of course, not every landlord or building manager is ethical and honest, and that’s where problems can come in.

 

landlord3Consider going to court. According to an attorney and real estate agent in Atlanta, Bruce Ailion, you probably want to take your landlord to small claims court instead of hiring a lawyer. Landlord money disputes involve amounts that don’t justify hiring legal representation. Hiring one doesn’t mean you will ever stand before a judge. Chances are, the court will just supply you with a mediator to see if a resolution can be reached. If the court ends up siding with the tenant when it comes to the landlord holding the deposit, the tenant will receive three times the amount of deposit, and the landlord will have to pay attorney fees. Know the law! Letting your landlord understand that you know the law is also a smart bet.

Having a tenant-friendly state laws provides a strong incentive for landlords to behave properly and settle prior to court. Though sometimes, you’ll simply have to know when the money and time aren’t worth the fight and when to just walk away. It sometimes would cost you more to pursue it than the amount they took.

You may have to leave your money behind, if that happens, you’ve at least paid for a life lesson.

 

Make sure you research your prospective rental company online first before moving into another apartment. You can find if there are any complaints and reviews from other tenants. In other words, just as landlords do a background check on a tenant, it wouldn’t hurt to do your own background check on a landlord too.

 

Source: usnews.com, rentomato.com

 

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