Topic No. 262: Resolving Problems With Your Landlord or Tenant
If you are having problems with your unit or your landlord or tenant is doing something you do not like, the first thing you should do is to contact the other person and discuss the problem. Parties can often resolve a problem once it is brought to their attention. Whether you are a tenant, an owner or a person responsible for the building, following these suggestions can help resolve many issues:
- Don’t make assumptions — The landlord may not know about a problem in the building or the tenant you think is causing a problem may not in fact be responsible for it. Don’t put the other person on the defensive by being accusatory. Be as matter of fact as you can about the problem; explain your point of view, and make an honest effort to understand the other person’s perspective.
- Discuss possible resolutions — Once the facts are on the table, offer possible solutions to the problem and what you see as the best solution. If you cannot agree on the solution, you might want to consider using a dispute resolution service.
- Confirm your agreements — If you agree on a resolution, make sure everyone understands the agreement and what each person is supposed to do by what date. A written memo confirming the agreement is a good way of insuring everyone knows the terms of the agreement.
- Follow-up — If the timeframes are not met in a timely fashion, call immediately to inquire why not. There may be extenuating circumstances, so try to get a new commitment, which should also be confirmed in writing.
- Follow through — If you still don’t have resolution, then you will need to take a stronger course of action, for example, by filing a complaint with the Department of Building Inspection or the Rent Board or by issuing an eviction notice. Let the other party know that unless the matter is resolved by a date certain, you will have to take another course of action. You should inform the other party in writing that this is the last opportunity to perform, which shows that you are acting reasonably if you wind up in court or a similar venue.
The Rent Board has an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program that can help tenants, landlords, roommates, property managers and neighbors resolve housing-related disputes. The scope of the ADR program is not limited to issues involving rent increases or decreases housing services under the Rent Ordinance. Other housing-related conflicts can be addressed. The ADR program is not available if there is a pending Rent Board petition, or court case involving the same issue. Parties to a pending Rent Board Report of Alleged Wrongful Eviction may participate in the ADR program, but no agreement by a tenant to vacate a rental unit can be discussed.