Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The stress of dealing with landlord-tenant disputes in Montgomery County, Maryland

Being a landlord can be very rewarding, but like most everything else, it presents challenges.

The biggest complaint I hear from people is resolving payment of the repair the landlord's responsibility or the tenant's responsibility and so naturally who should pay? The first thing you should do is review the lease you signed and sight the verbiage that supports your claim. If it is either not clear and/or both parties are being firm in their positions, have a repair person come in and agree that based on the contractor's diagnosis, the appropriate person will pay.

The below link is a form from Montgomery County, Maryland that addresses either the landlord or tenant filing complaints against the other. It is important to note, that if you are looking for the other party to pay for the repair, this form is asking you for to provide receipts as evidence. So, I am not sure you can collect money if you do the repair(s) yourself.

Another challenge I hear from landlords is regarding the security deposit. First, related to the above, if due to tenant negligence and misuse the home needs repairs, the landlord not return the entire deposit if he/she provides the tenant with receipts for work done. However, the tenant can file a complaint that the repairs weren't his/her fault, so he/she should receive the entire deposit back. The form on the link below can be used to file a complaint regarding deposit.

The second challenge related to the security deposit is renters telling their landlords that they want the security deposit to be used as the last month's rent. I cannot recall a lease saying that a tenant can do this but read over your lease and seak legal guidance. If a landlord allows the tenant to use the deposit as last month's rent, or worse, decides not to collect a deposit when tenant moves in (yes, I have heard of people doing this!), the landlord is leaving him/herself extremely vulnerable if expenses come up that are the tenant's fault and/or the tenant breaks the lease. Again, the link below is a form which one can use to file a complaint.

Some landlords are afraid, for lack of better words, of enforcing lease guidelines when there are disputes, because they are concerned about potential follow out. It isn't always easy being a landlord or tenant. Many investors retain professional property managers and many people look to rent homes that are professionally managed because (1)they (property managers) are experts at handling landlord/tenant disputes issues - they do this for a living and (2) and it is a way for landlords/tenants to avoid the stress from being directly involved if/when there is a tenant dispute.

The most important thing to remember when you have a dispute with your landlord or tenant is not to take the law into your own hands. Follow the terms in your lease, get a copy of the local landlord-tenant handbook and before taking actions, seriously consider consulting an attorney.
Again, above is a Montgomery County, Maryland form for landlords and tenants to file complaints.

Below is a link for the Montgomery County landlord-tenant handbook:

Thinking about buying an investment property or converting a primary residence into an investment property?  If you are a renter in an unhappy situation, have you thought about buying?  Let's talk.

Adam (301)943-4370

Adam Bashein
Licensed in MD & DC
Weichert Realtors
(301)718-4100 - ask for Adam