Finding yourself in a dispute with your Baltimore County tenant is a stressful situation. Even if you have a high quality property management company by your side, litigating in court should be avoided if possible.
As civil lawsuits hover near 300,000 per year in the United States, it is no wonder property owners fear landing in court opposite of their tenants. Time, energy, and of course money is always involved when facing a court appearance. And, there is always the chance you will lose. In the case of a loss, you risk costly compensation judgments and a ruined reputation as a property manager.
But not to fear. There are other ways to solve your Baltimore County rental dispute outside of appearing in court.
Today we are going to look at some of the best ways to avoid landing in a rental home dispute in the first place. In addition, we will look at five reasons why you should make every attempt to settle your Baltimore County rental home dispute out of court should you find yourself dealing with some legal trouble.
How to Avoid a Baltimore County Rental Home Dispute
Disputes are bound to happen at one point or another when you are in the rental property business. And, whether you self-manage your rental properties or enlist the help of property management in Baltimore County, you will have to deal with tenant disputes regardless.
Luckily, according to AllBusiness, there are some proven ways to help prevent landlord-tenant disputes:
- Understand the Laws. When it comes to owning a rental property in Maryland, it pays to understand the state and local laws as they pertain to the rental property business. While you want to make a profit, you run the risk of losing everything in a dispute.
- Keep Records of Any Dispute. Anytime you find yourself in a dispute with your tenant, make sure you document everything. Sometimes just showing your tenant this documentation can be enough to get the tenant to stop pursuing a legal dispute.
- Have a Meeting. This is especially helpful if you have a property management company helping you to manage your rental properties. Sitting down with an upset tenant can sometimes smooth a potential problem out quickly without involving the courts.
In the end, besides following the above advice, being proactive about possible disputes is one of the best things you and your property management company can do to avoid a day in court.
5 Reasons Property Owners Should Settle Rental Disputes Out of Court
For those times when you just can’t avoid a rental home dispute, and the issue must be resolved, it is best you try your hardest to avoid going before a judge.
Keep reading to find out why.
1. It’s Expensive
Everyone knows that going to court is expensive. The cost of an attorney, filing fees, and ultimately settlements can be very expensive. And, whether you hire an attorney that charges a flat retention fee or charges by the hour, you will soon find yourself with thousands of dollars owed to the people representing you in court.
In addition, some legal proceedings, such as an eviction, may take months to resolve. All the while, you will continue to pay your lawyer and any other related legal fees. This is something all property owners want to avoid, as should any tenant looking to get out of trouble with their landlord.
And don’t forget, even if you win your case, you lawyer is likely to take a large percentage of any settlement you receive.
Therefore, in the interest of cost alone, sometimes it is best to try to settle a dispute outside of court so that neither party goes down financially. In the end, so long as the issue is resolved amicably, it won’t matter to either party where it was resolved.
2. Court is Unpredictable
Sometimes when you go to court, the judge awards the other party much more in damages (a.k.a. money) than you or your attorney were expecting. On the other hand, you may find that you lose when you thought you were a shoe-in for a win. Worse yet, your key piece of evidence may be excluded by the judge, your witnesses may not show, or you may find you are just up against a more experienced attorney. The truth is that you never know what you will be up against in court until you are already there. And by then, it is too late.
Unfortunately, you take these risks when you go to court to settle any type of dispute.
By settling outside of court, you take the unpredictable nature out of the equation. Each side presents what they will gladly settle for and when an agreement is made, that’s it. Whatever was agreed upon is a done deal and each party moves forward with their lives.
3. Time is Always Wasted in Court
The court process is always a slow one, even for the simplest of cases. There are so many cases flowing through the court system at one time, and only a certain amount of manpower to handle it all. Plus, there are certain legal procedures that must be followed in a court case that can lead to lengthy court proceedings. These include finding an attorney, deposing each side, preparing interrogatories, assigning court dates that are often rescheduled multiple times, and more.
Time wasted in court settling a rental home dispute causes many problems for property owners such as:
- The more time spent in court the more the attorney gets paid
- Additional proceedings add to the filing fees and time it takes to officially file the paperwork
- If you are in court dealing with a significant rental home dispute, your property is likely vacant = loss in income
- Your vacant home is at risk for vandalism, squatters, or damages
You always hope that your case will settle in a few months or so regardless of how major the dispute is. However, there is always a chance your case will slog through the system and take upwards of years to settle fully. This can be very damaging to your entire rental property business and is yet another reason to try to avoid going to court if possible.
4. Court is Stressful
Having to deal with a rental home dispute that has escalated into a court case is very stressful. Before you know it, all of your private matters are being discussed openly in court amongst many people. You may have to take the stand and testify about uncomfortable situations and in addition, your family and friends may even become involved.
Moreover, don’t forget the general worry that lingers when you are going through a court dispute. After all, you may lose your case and owe a lot of money in compensation to the other party plus any fees you accumulate during the proceedings. This includes fees to your own attorney plus any fees you might owe the opposing party (a.k.a. your tenant).
By settling outside of court, you know exactly what the outcome will be and how much each party will owe because that’s the only way the issue will settle. More so, you will never agree to anything without knowing all of the terms, therefore lessoning the angst that a court case can often cause.
5. Trials are Public Record
If you end up in court facing your tenant in a rental home dispute, every court proceeding that occurs will become a matter of public record. This means anyone, including future tenants interested in leasing from you, will have access to every last detail regarding the dispute. You can easily see how this may negatively affect your rental property business. In the end, unless a judge orders your case’s records sealed, your proceedings will be available for anyone in the public to read.
On the other hand, the involved parties control all settlements made outside of court. This means whatever you wish to remain a private matter, including the settlement amount, will stay private forever.
In the end, entertaining a rental home dispute is no light matter. There are serious consequences for both parties should a dispute go so far as to end up in court. That’s why it is so important to try to settle outside of court if possible.
If you have a rental property in the Baltimore County region, and the thought of having to resolve a tenant dispute worries you, contact Bay Management Group today to help you out. Not only will we stand by your side during any legal dispute you may encounter, whether it settles outside of court or goes to trial, we will manage everything else property related for you as well.