Imagine you have decided to rent an apartment near downtown Raleigh. You find a place that is affordable and close to work, take a tour of one of the units and decide to sign a lease agreement.
Now imagine that you have lived there for over a year now. During that time, you have started noticing some problems with your apartment – some minor, some major. While you think these problems are the result of poor care by your landlord, your landlord claims you are responsible for the lion’s share of the problems. In these situations, even seemingly small problems can implode into contentious legal battles that pit landlord against tenant.
The reality is that landlords and tenants have completely opposite perspectives on issues regarding matters like repairs. Tenants expect that problems will be fixed; landlords have to prioritize problems and focus on repairing only the things that they have an obligation to fix. This leads to a lot of finger-pointing and blame-shifting.
To illustrate this point, we can look at one recent case involving a couple who claimed their landlord refused to fix several things in their apartment including leaks throughout the apartment, missing window seals and locks and unsafe wall heaters.
The landlord, on the other hand, claims that he had been making efforts to repair the various problems, but the tenants created some of the damage on their own. Further, the tenants then stopped paying rent, and the landlord ultimately had them evicted.
In similar situations, both parties can benefit from opening up communication and negotiating resolutions with some legal support. Informal, resolution-oriented efforts can be very effective at helping two sides find a way to resolve a dispute before it gets too heated. Oftentimes, simply examining a lease from a legal perspective and explaining both sides of the issue can clear up any confusion.
When these disputes arise and cannot be settled by referring back to the lease, landlords and tenants can be locked in a fight where rent goes unpaid, problems go unrepaired and one or both parties face serious repercussions from unpaid rent to eviction. No one wins in these situations, so finding a creative way to solve the problems with some legal guidance can be in everyone’s best interests.