What Should I do About a Rental Dispute?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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The simplest way to settle a rental dispute is informally between the landlord and tenant in a personal meeting to discuss the basis of the disagreement. Sometimes a misunderstanding of the lease agreement or the law in the region where the property sits can be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties. If a rental dispute cannot be rectified this way, mediation, arbitration, and court are options to pursue. Some regions offer government assistance for resolving rental disputes to avoid formal court action.

A good lease or rental agreement reviewed by the tenant and landlord can prevent a rental dispute from cropping up. Lease agreements should spell out the responsibilities of the parties who sign it, and what happens if any clauses in the contract are breached. The agreements commonly cover rental payments, repairs, and maintenance, damage to the property, and privacy concerns. Security deposits and what is required for a refund can also be spelled out in the agreement.

Rental disputes might be avoided by keeping good records and receipts. For example, if a tenant believes the rental property is unsafe or unlivable, a letter to the landlord should outline his or her concerns. Landlords in most areas are required to maintain electrical, plumbing, heating, and the roof in good repair. Tenants who are behind in rent or face eviction should be notified in writing of the timeline for paying arrears and how the eviction process works.


When the rental dispute requires mediation, the parties might check a local government agency to see what help is available. A mediator is trained to solve disputes without bias, but his or her decision is generally not binding in a court of law. Sometimes the mediator can help the tenant and landlord arrive at reasonable solutions to the rental dispute without further action. In some regions, rent control committees, tribunals, or similar services are available to mediate rental disputes.

If mediation is not successful, arbitration is the next step. Decisions by an arbitrator are usually binding in court, and some rental agreements outline the steps for arbitration, making it a mandatory part of the contract. An arbitrator reviews all evidence presented about the rental dispute and makes a decision on how it should be settled.

The final recourse to deal with a rental dispute when all other attempts fail is court. Some courts allow both parties to represent themselves without hiring an attorney. The opposing parties can present written evidence and call witnesses to bolster their cases.


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Post 1

I am a tenant in a flat in Mumbai, and I've been staying at this place for the last 40 years. The property is under dispute. There are several people claiming the property. It belonged to an old lady with no legal heirs. I'm not sure who is the rightful owner, and I have not been paying rent to anybody for the last 10 years. I need some advice. How can I find out the ownership of this property?

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