Landlord Tips for Surviving Dispute Resolution

by Chris on January 1, 2019

Despite a landlord’s best efforts, a tenancy can take a bad turn and wind up in dispute resolution. Actions like evictions and claims for unpaid rent are stressful, time-consuming, and costly for landlords. Procedural delays can take months, and even then, there is no guarantee of being compensated by the tenant.

The odds of prevailing in dispute resolution are improved by following these strategies:

Plan ahead. Tenant screening is critical not only in weeding out potential problem tenants, but also in collecting a monetary judgement against a tenant in dispute resolution. The accuracy of the personal information obtained during screening increases the chances of reimbursement. Keep that in mind when verifying rental applications and speaking with references.

It’s not a sure thing. Many landlords report that the dispute resolution process is biased toward tenants, placing a higher burden on landlords. From a landlord’s perspective, it’s unfair — if not ridiculous — to believe that the landlord would be making it up. After all, how many landlords spend time and money attempting to evict a good tenant? Even in the best-case scenario, the landlord and tenant are on equal footing. That’s important to remember when preparing evidence for dispute resolution.

Negotiate from a position of power. Tenants have an advantage when a dispute arises: they’re living in the rental. The tenant has incentive to make disingenuous promises that foster delays. Begin the formal dispute resolution process early and use it as leverage when negotiating a settlement with the tenant.

Stay within the lines. Don’t act outside of the dispute resolution system. Self-help remedies like threatening to throw the tenant out of a unit, changing the locks, stopping utilities, or wrongfully withholding security deposits will backfire, and the landlord will wind up paying the tenant compensation, not the other way around.

Be prepared to defend. The best way to prevail in dispute resolution is to anticipate the most common arguments that tenants might raise:
They did pay the rent and the landlord is lying;
The condition of the property warrants a reduction in rent;
The tenant is not the one who caused the damage; and,
The damage is not as extensive as the landlord claims.

Fortunately, landlords have powerful tools at their disposal specifically designed to overcome a tenant’s frivolous arguments. Simply:

Complete move-in/move-out condition reports and ask tenants to sign off; and
Report Rent Payments each month through TVS. This creates a rental payment history, and, because the information is shared with Equifax Canada, it provides disincentive for tenants to default on rent or pay late — common reasons for dispute resolution.

Reach out for support. Saying that an eviction proceeding is like a divorce is being overly dramatic. However, landlords battling bad tenants report experiencing a sense of betrayal by both the tenant and the tribunal, anger at themselves for getting duped by a scammer, a sense of grief upon seeing the property damaged, and a significant degree of stress over the potential income loss. Ask for help in navigating the tribunal. Consider offloading the process to a legal expert who can deal with it objectively. Seek out avenues for emotional support — other landlords, friends, and family members who can offer empathy — and a clear perspective.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

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