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Questions on Landlord Dispute Resolution

Landlords and tenants can dispute over many issues. These can range from simple things like small repairs in the rental house to more serious issues like breach of a rental agreement that can cause a tenant to start litigation against his landlord and take him to court.

Listed below are a few questions related to landlord disputes.

I am engaged in a dispute with my former landlord about cleaning the carpet. She now plans to get a new carpet and wants me to pay one-third of the cost. Is this legal?

In most cases, a tenant would not be responsible for “ordinary wear and tear” on carpets. Even if the carpet was brand new when you moved in, some amount of wear would be expected over time. Therefore, as a tenant, you wouldn’t be responsible for paying a part of the cost of a new carpet unless there was gross negligence on your part. This would amount to something like damaging the carpet beyond normal wear and tear by doing something like creating oil stains or spilling paint on it.

If you haven’t created significant damage to the carpet, then you are not obliged to pay any part of the cost of replacing the carpet.

My landlord and I are involved in a dispute regarding two rent checks that he has misplaced. My lease is up soon and I am moving out but my landlord insists that I pay him before I leave. I can’t get copies of the two checks until the moving day. Legally, can my landlord prevent me from moving?

Your landlord cannot prevent you from moving but the situation can affect your credit if he does not end up receiving your checks. What you could do is get a print-out from the bank that shows that the checks were taken from your checking amount. This could serve as proof until you can get hold of a copy of the cancelled checks.

I have already moved out of my rented place but my landlord and I are in a dispute about the rent. I have left some belongings behind that are higher in value than the amount in dispute and want to know if the landlord can dispose of them or keep it for himself? Also, can I sue him if he does so?

You are entitled to get back all your belongings and this should not affect the amount in dispute. If your landlord does not return your belongings, you could sue him for it.

My landlord is not following the rental agreement and I am now engaged in a dispute with him. I am based in Rhode Island and want to know if I can withhold the rent and force him to stick by the agreement and honor it?

Usually, withholding the rent poses a high risk. The RI Landlord Tenant Act will allow you to do it in special circumstances in which the landlord doesn’t maintain the unit properly and it is not considered habitable or repairs to the unit have not been carried out after asking him to do so. Your only other way out is to pay the rent and then go to court and file a claim against your landlord or terminate the lease due to default. The advantage with paying the rent is that it gives you a stronger footing and prevents the landlord from portraying you as the bad guy.

Getting into a dispute with your landlord can lead to a lot of unpleasantness and a strained relationship. However, as a tenant you need to be aware of your rights and responsibilities so that you can resolve the dispute in the best manner possible.
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