How to Resolve a Conflict with your Landlord
Tenants and landlords are bound together financially through the lease, so it's important to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants before they become unmanageable.
Most disputes between landlords and tenants are often caused by one side or the other over rent payments, repairs, security deposits, privacy and more.
Whatever the reason for the conflict, you're not alone! There are several provincial resources to help tenants and landlords resolve their disputes.
- Alberta: Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Service
- British Columbia: Residential Tenancy Branch
- Manitoba: Residential Tenancy Branch
- New Brunswick: Government of New Brunswick Servicesfor Landlords and Tenants
- Newfoundland & Labrador: Residential Tenancies
- Northwest Territories: Northwest Territories Rental Office
- Nova Scotia: Residential Tenancies program
- Ontario: Landlord and Tenant Board
- Prince Edward Island: Office of the Director of Residential Rental Property
- Quebec: Régie du Logement
- Saskatchewan: Office of Residential Tenancies
- Yukon: Department of Community Services
Stopping a conflict before it happens
Living in harmony in rental accommodation doesn't necessarily mean you have to run away from conflict; you can sometimes find common ground and resolve the dispute with your landlord with informal communication. If that doesn't work and you have no alternative but to seek legal action or arbitration, there's help available!
10 ways for tenants to deal with conflicts with landlords
01 Make sure your lease is "bullet-proof"
Arguing with the landlord about using the barbecue on the patio or about your pet? Did you ensure your lease or rental agreement mentioned these restrictions? The lease is a binding document, and its contents can clarify who is in the right when you get into a dispute with your landlord. If you were careful to read the fine print and insist on the addition or removal of certain elements, your lease should include fair terms that protect both you and your landlord.
02 Being a good tenant when it comes to rental fees
Sta ying on the good side of your landlord is easier than you might think. To start with, always pay your rent on time, even if you're having a dispute with your landlord over something else. Paying your rent on time not only avoids trouble (and a possible eviction notice) but also puts you on the right side of the law if the dispute gets out of hand and ends up in arbitration on in court.
03Keeping your rental accommodation in good condition
Another way to avoid a dispute with your landlord is to keep your rental property damage-free! Many landlords will become uncomfortable if they find out that a tenant is not maintaining the rental in good condition. There's something called normal wear-and-tear, due to daily use, which is not the tenant's fault; however, it is your responsibility to keep the place generally in good condition and inform your landlord of issues such as leaks before they become unmanageable.
04Trying face-to-face first
Sometimes, tone isn't clear from text messages or written notices. If something has gone wrong, try to meet your landlord face-to-face to understand what the issue is and make your point of view clear. Don't let things escalate, however. If you see you're not getting anywhere and are failing to reach a compromise, end the conversation and continue with written documents that are traceable, in case you should need them later.
05Putting it in writing!
Did your landlord say the windows would be repaired after you move in, but now he or she seems to have forgotten every saying it? As soon as you decide that you're going to take the rental apartment, use your ultimate apartment checklist to negotiate your lease and remove deal-breakers and read the fine print. Make whatever additions you feel are important and get any promises in writing.
Keep a record of conversations and emails with your landlord. Before you move in and before you move out, take digital time-stamped photos of the apartment's condition to get your deposit back. If all is going well with the relationship, you may not feel this is necessary, but in court as in arbitration, documentation can make all the difference.
06Keeping a cool head
To resolve your tenant-landlord dispute, the first thing you need to do is to stay calm and professional at all times to stop the dispute from escalating. Walk away if a conversation gets too heated and resume it later. Some tenant-landlord relationships and discussions are made entirely through written notes and notices (keep a copy and send important documents by registered post). Keeping a cool head also helps make a good impression if things get worse and a third party gets involved.
07Compromising when you can
One option when dealing with conflict is to compromise where you can. To maintain harmonious relationships, sometimes it's necessary to understand the other person and see things from their perspective. This makes it easier to see why they're asking what they are, and to reach an agreement. Make it a point to resolve difficulties with your landlord as soon as possible, rather than letting them fester over time. If both parties are willing, there's a good chance you'll end up resolving your conflict.
08Knowing your rights
There are several organizations and resources that will help tenants in rental accommodation when they end up in conflict with their landlords. As a tenant, you have rights as well as responsibilities, and being knowle dgeable about them will give you more assurance when dealing with a landlord.
Every province has local agencies and organisations that can help tenants navigate the legislation and obtain information and support.
09Trying third-party mediation
Sometimes we can't see the forest for the trees. If you and your landlord aren't able to resolve your dispute together, you ought to try third-party mediation. Mediation means that a neutral third-party will hear both your perspectives and will try to find a compromise. Mediation isn't free usually, but it's certainly cheaper than legal action!
10Taking it to the last resort: dispute resolution, arbitration, and litigation
Mediation is always the better option, but if it doesn't work, there is one last resort: dispute resolution. Regardless of which province you live in, legislation protects both tenants and landlords with Dispute Resolution. After hearing both sides in a court-like setting, an arbitrator makes a ruling that is binding.
Sometimes, starting the dispute resolution process is enough to get both sides talking again, as it can take a long time for a ruling to be made.
Preventing rental disputes with your landlord is always better than trying to resolve them, so focus your energy on keeping your side of the bargain with your landlord!