Plan Ahead to Protect Your Tenant Rights

Posted by Marc D. Whitham - June 12, 2011 - Eviction Defense, Tenants Rights Information - 3 Comments

I am frequently contacted by tenants who have terrible stories about how their landlord or property manager has taken advantage of them, or who find themselves fighting unjust evictions based on false accusations.  Far too often many of these tenants have no records of their most important conversations with the landlord, and no documents to support what really happened.

Not surprisingly, when it comes time to present the matter to the court, the landlord and his agents have a very different version of events. For those who have the misfortune of fighting with your landlord in court, tenants without any written evidence to support their claims find out that they face a skeptical audience.  Courts do not like to base their decisions on the basis of oral testimony alone.

Judges want to see written evidence.  If you have complained dozens of times to the landlord about the cockroaches and broken windows, it is difficult for judges to believe that you never made any objection in writing. Courts and Commissioners are skeptical when you claim that you paid all of the rent that you say you did, if you don’t have any receipts. If you have stories about bed bugs, or rats, then take photos often, and send copies to management.

For this reason, it is extremely important that tenants keep good records of all the events surrounding their tenancies.  Not just the receipts from the payments of rent, but also copies of all emails, letters, and any notices that the landlord gives to you. Push the button below to open a link to a very practical renters logbook produced by Housingrights, Inc.

Click on the button, and print out the PDF document. Staple the sheets together. Put three holes in the side and put it in a three ring binder. You can even buy some of those plastic sheet protectors for your rental agreement and an envelope that zips to keep all of your rent receipts in one place.  Whenever you have a conversation with the landlord, write it down. If the landlord makes an inspection of the apartment make a short note of the date it took place and why.

Renters' Logbook

It may sound like a silly project, but it is sound advice that could save you hundreds and even thousands of dollars, not to mention the satisfaction of being able to stand on your rights and avoid an unjust eviction.

If you want to have a great relationship with your landlord, prepare for the worst.  Document everything and communicate clearly – in writing.