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The most vicious wars are not always fought in some distant battlefields but could sometimes spark closer to home. The battle between tenant and landlord has a long history that is written in the annals of American courtrooms. They could happen anywhere and to anyone, in the most unexpected places. Whether one lives in an apartments in Houston Texas, one can always find oneself in this most unwanted of quarrels.
The good news is, like most wars, disputes between tenant and landlord can be avoided by keeping a cool head and taking steps to making sure a conflict never has to arise.
This is a primer for both sides, whether you live in a Houston rental or you lease a Houston apartment.
Why do landlord-tenant disputes happen?
Whether it be over an increase in rental rates or uncertainty as to who is responsible for an area of maintenance, disputes are inevitable. Once tempers flare and harsh words are spoken, tensions escalate and, more often than not, have to be resolved in court. Certainly the dockets of Texan courts are pockmarked by disputes over Houston rentals.
Tips to avoid a dispute.
The Lease and The Law. In the film The Last Boy Scout, new private detective Damon Wayans asked grizzled veteran Bruce Willis for advice on how to do his new job. The response was in the form of the familiar Boy Scout credo: “Be prepared, Son. Be prepared.” This is sound advice for anyone thinking of moving into Houston apartments to rent, or anywhere else, for that matter. Be sure to know the provisions in your lease agreement. Make sure to ask a lot of questions before you sign on. If there are no provisions for the frequency of rent increases or a listing of what forms of maintenance fall under the landlord’s responsibility make sure they are written in stone. On the other hand, tenants must also be up to date on the housing laws. Most disputes arise from one party not knowing that they have broken a lease agreement or not knowing what his rights are under the law. Taking the time to familiar oneself on those two documents is a necessary step in avoiding future conflict.
Keep a Paper Trail. Many people still believe in handshake agreements and in “my word is my bond”, particularly in old-fashioned Texas. But remember those ideals were forged in the days when broken trust and spiteful language can (and tend to) end in slaughtered cattle and gun battles. Nowadays, landlords and tenants must make sure that any agreements or adjustments to existing contracts must be documented and signed properly. More traditional folk would think that is being distrustful and therefore dishonorable. It isn’t. It’s just being smart. If one has to request a repair, for example, writing a letter and keeping a copy is better than a phone call. Make sure to keep a copy.
Leave Your Temper at The Door. Everyone knows that even the smallest disagreement explodes into a long and drawn out war the moment somebody loses their cool. So if any issue arises between a tenant and a landlord, one must take a step back and remember to keep a clear head. Losing your temper in these discussions will always lead to heightened tensions and every one knows that once harsh words are spoken, it could lead to lasting damage. Keep conversation lines open and discussions civil and unemotional.
If All Else Fails… It is important to acknowledge that, there are cases where both sides would not be able to compromise and the issue will inevitably escalate. This is where professional help might be required. Trained property-dispute mediators can help you deal with rental issues. Legal assistance can be a crucial last ditch effort to keeping a dispute from having to be decided in court. If all these measures fail and the matter has to be ruled upon by a small courts or civil judge, then the preparation you made and the documentation you kept will be key pieces to the case.
So, for all prospective tenants, whether you are on Google typing in “apts Houston tx” or “apts in Houston tx” remember to study the leases in all your prospective Houston apartments to rent. Doing so might mean the difference between declaring war and keeping the peace.
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