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When to Hire a Lawyer as a Tenant

The attorneys at Alperstein & Diener explain the various scenarios that may warrant a need for a renter to hire a lawyer regarding their rights.

Many legal issues surface between landlords and tenants, yet they often get disregarded due to a lack of understanding around tenants and landlords’ rights. The majority of these issues are minor and can easily be resolved through contract explanations and open communication. However, there are more serious issues that may inhibit you from living in the rental property, which could warrant the involvement of an attorney.

Below is a list of common situations that occur between tenants and landlords that could be worthy of legal attention. Some of these situations occur and happen quite dramatically, but others are more subtle and may develop over time. If tenants don’t know their rights they may live with conditions that they don’t deserve.

  1. Your landlord is evicting you without regard to lawful procedures. When setting out to evict a tenant, a landlord must follow specified state and local laws. This means that the landlord cannot take matters into their own hands and take arbitrary actions to keep their tenants out of the property. These actions include canceling utilities or replacing doors or windows to intentionally lock people out.
  2. Your landlord discriminates against you. It is illegal for a landlord to discriminate against their current or potential tenants for a variety of reasons, such as gender, race or religion. If you believe a landlord is discriminating against you, consult with an attorney as soon as possible as he or she will be able to provide you with the greatest chance of proving the discrimination and recovering damages for harm or costs incurred.
  3. Your landlord refuses to make repairs he or she is responsible for addressing. If your landlord avoids addressing or fixing major repairs you could be entitled to enact a tenant remedy. Tenant remedies include rent withholding and negotiated rent reductions, but without proper safeguards, they may leave the tenant with a less than satisfactory outcome.If certain property items are stated in the rental agreement or the law as the responsibility of the landlord, consulting with an attorney could prove very beneficial in these situations. Your attorney can communicate with the landlord or your behalf, explore options for quick settlements or file suit against the landlord if necessary.
  4. You were injured or became ill as a result of your landlord’s negligence. While tenants assume numerous obligations regarding the rental property when they sign a rental agreement, landlords are still responsible to a certain extent for taking precautionary measures to prevent injuries or serious illnesses. For example, if you as a tenant discover that your serious illness was linked to a mold outbreak in the property, you may be able to take legal action against the landlord for failing to maintain a safe rental property.

Although any of the situations above could spark a lawsuit, there are no guaranteed outcomes, and results will be dependent on the specific factual situation in which you find yourself. Rental agreements play a huge role in assessing whether the case at hand is worth filing a claim against a landlord, so it’s imperative to consult with an attorney who is familiar with the court proceedings and contract requirements if you have confusion or a misunderstanding regarding your unique circumstances.

For more information about tenants’ rights and determining when to hire a lawyer, contact the attorneys at Alperstein & Diener.