A conflict with a landlord can be incredibly stressful. After all, tenants do not want to put their home in jeopardy while trying to resolve a problem, whether it is over rent payments, the lease or a lack of maintenance.
In some cases, these conflicts can quickly transform into serious disputes. When dealing with these disputes, when is it the right time for tenants to consult an attorney?
First: Hiring an attorney does not mean litigation
Tenants might be hesitant to involve an attorney in the dispute with their landlord. There are a few reasons for this, mainly because many tenants believe that consulting an attorney automatically means they will be taking the dispute to court.
This is not necessarily true. Speaking with an attorney can help tenants:
- Understand the full extent of their rights as a tenant;
- Protect those rights effectively; and
- Interpret New York’s complex real estate laws, leases and other details.
An attorney can be a supportive ally for tenants when they face a stressful conflict – not only a strong representative in court.
So, when should tenants see an attorney?
There are several cases in which it would be helpful for tenants to speak with an attorney, including:
- Unfair evictions: While landlords reserve the right to evict tenants, there are a few circumstances when it is illegal, such as if it is in retaliation. Landlords also must follow a proper procedure when they move forward with an eviction, including providing plenty of notice to the tenant.
- Unfulfilled obligations: If landlords do not fulfill their responsibilities listed in the lease and rental agreement, tenants may be able to take legal action. For example, if the rented property is damaged or ill-maintained, landlords generally have a duty to repair it. If they do not, it can be a serious issue that tenants should not overlook.
- Discrimination: Under the Fair Housing Act as well as the New York State Human Rights Law, landlords cannot discriminate against prospective or current tenants a part of protected classes. They must provide fair housing. It can be difficult to detect discrimination, as well as prove it. So, it is often beneficial to consult an attorney.
This is only to name a few situations when tenants should consider speaking to an attorney. However, if tenants feel overwhelmed or uncertain about any sort of landlord-tenant dispute, it might be time to consult an attorney to ensure they protect their rights and home.