How to Navigate a Landlord-Tenant Dispute


There are many reasons a landlord-tenant dispute can arise, which is why itโ€™s important to have an experienced real estate attorney in Los Angeles by your side. The most common issues include a breach of the lease agreement, responsibility to make repairs, and failure to make payments on time. Landlords and tenants may have disputes on various other issues, and itโ€™s often in the best interests of both to avoid litigation.

The best way to do this is to:

  • Know your legal rights and responsibilities, outlined in your lease contract and by federal, state, and local laws.
  • Inform the other party of any problems, with openness and honesty, as quickly as possible.
  • Maintain records of correspondences related to any issue with the property or your tenancy.

Know Your Rights

A breach of a lease agreement can lead to eviction. It is important to know the provisions of your lease, including your rights to habitable premises. Does your lease include the right to have service animals, disclosure under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, and to provision utilities so your landlord canโ€™t automatically cut off electricity, water, or heat? It should also cover a right to privacy, while your security deposit shouldnโ€™t exceed state limits.

For more specific laws in your state, consult the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developmentโ€™s list of landlord-tenant laws.

Also, consult your lease agreement on responsibility for repairs. It may include stipulations such as a requirement to provide landlords with written notice of defects in a rental property before theyโ€™re obligated to complete repairs. The lease may state the landlord must keep the property in habitable condition, but this may exclude dirty bathtubs or dripping faucets. Knowing the types of problems the landlord is required to fix and under what conditions can help avoid certain disputes.

Put all requests for minor repairs in writing, and donโ€™t try to fix the issue yourself, deduct its cost from the rent, or try to withhold rent entirely.

Non-payment cases can lead to a lawsuit. Before suing you, the landlord must demand the overdue rent or provide a warning. There are some cases you can sue the landlord as well. Examples include when a security deposit is handled improperly or isnโ€™t returned.

Communication Is Key

The best way to handle a landlord-tenant dispute is through communication between both parties. However, communications on sensitive issues can break down. Hiring an independent, third-party mediator can help establish a resolution, although mediators donโ€™t have authority to bind either party to an agreement.

When Landlord-Tenant Disputes Go to Court

If necessary, landlord-tenant disputes can be settled in a small claims court. Cases in a small claims court must involve monetary issues, such as past-due rent or a security deposit that hasnโ€™t been returned. In California, lawyers are not permitted in a small claims court, so the litigation process can be quite complex.

Seek the Help of an Expert in Real Estate Law

At OakTree Law, our attorneys are well-versed in real estate law. Whether youโ€™re a local homeowner or business facing a landlord-tenant dispute, our team can uphold your rights and assist with any real estate transaction. We provide legal representation when you need it most. Using our expertise, we can help resolve landlord-tenant disputes and assist with many other facets of real estate law, including residential and commercial leasing, contract review, and evictions. If youโ€™re facing a landlord-tenant dispute that youโ€™d like help resolving, contact OakTree Law at 562-219-2979 or request a free evaluation today.