Tip of the Month - December 2009

Negotiating a Settlement: Start by Talking

Source: Every Landlord’s Legal Guide-9th Edition
              By: Marcia Stewart
                    Attorneys Ralph Warner & Janet Portman

If you have a conflict with your Tenant over rent, repairs, your access to the rental unit, noise, or some other issue that doesn’t immediately warrant an eviction, a sensible first step is to meet with the Tenant-even one you consider to be a hopeless troublemaker-to see if the problem can be resolved.  This advice is based on the simple premise that unless you have the legal grounds (and the determination) to evict a Tenant, it’s almost always best to try and negotiate a settlement rather than let the dispute escalate into a court fight.  This is doubly true if you are convinced your case is just.  Given the cost and delays built into the arthritic American legal system, the more you rely on it, the more you are likely to regret going to court.

Solicit the Tenant’s point of view.  Once the Tenant starts talking, listen closely and don’t interrupt, even if some of his points are not true or some of his opinions are inflammatory.

When the Tenant has wound down, acknowledge that you have heard his key points, even if you disagree with them.  Sometimes it’s even a good idea to repeat the Tenant’s concerns so he will realize you know what they are and will stop repeating them.

Tip from Crossett Real Estate Services

Our experience has shown that communication skills play a strong role in addressing conflicts with Tenants..   

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This web page was updated on 12/01/2009.