Landlord-tenant disputes are not limited to low-income housing. Even those who rent apartments in affluent areas of San Francisco may find that they have a dispute with their landlord from time-to-time. The following are some ways to resolve landlord-tenant disputes without having to go to court.
Discuss the dispute together
Sometimes the easiest way to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute is simply to discuss the dispute. Sometimes a discussion can defuse tensions whereas immediately going to court would increase tensions. Both sides may be able to work out a solution. Remember, both landlords and tenants have the duty to work with one another fairly and in good faith. If talking face-to-face is not possible or desirable, communicating in writing may be enough to resolve the dispute.
Mediation is another alternative way to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute without having to go to court. Sometimes mediation takes place at a local dispute resolution center. The mediation process is overseen by a mediator who is a neutral third party. The mediator is not a decision-maker. Instead, the mediator helps facilitate discussions between the landlord and tenant, so they can reach a settlement agreement together. This saves both parties from the time and expense of going to court.
Arbitration is a third way to resolve a landlord-tenant dispute. It is more formal than mediation, but less formal than a trial. The process is overseen by an arbitrator. Unlike a mediator, the arbitrator is a decision maker. Both sides will present their case, and the mediator will issue a binding decision unless the parties agreed ahead of time that arbitration would be nonbinding. Evidence can be submitted in arbitration, but the rules are generally more relaxed than they would be in a trial.
Try alternative dispute resolution first
Whether you try to settle your landlord-tenant dispute on your own, through mediation or arbitration, you may be able to reach an acceptable resolution without going to trial. This can save time, money and the stress that litigation brings. By using dispute resolution techniques and attempting to be cooperative and work together, landlords and tenants may be able to avoid having to go through the eviction process or a trial.