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Even the most reasonable landlords and the most responsible tenants have the occasional dispute. Fortunately, the vast majority of these disputes never need to see the inside of a courtroom.
For a minority of these cases, however, you may need to sue a property management company in order to enforce your rights as a tenant. So here are a few things to keep in mind if and when you do:
Whether the dispute is over unfinished, inadequate, or non-existent repairs or an illegal eviction, you'll want as much evidence as possible to support your case. The more documentation you have, of both the issue and the property management company's response, the greater chance you have of succeeding in court.
Do as much communicating with the managers by email as you can; take extensive notes of any in-person or phone conversations; and take whatever photographs are necessary to accurately portray your issue. And if the dispute is over rent, a security deposit, or reimbursement, check receipts and bank statements could help as well. The earlier you get into these habits, the better.
Litigation, especially with a company that manages where you live, should always be your final and last attempt to resolve a property conflict. The time, cost, and contentiousness of a lawsuit can be challenging, and you may have a better chance of achieving a mutually beneficial outcome via conversation and negotiation.
That said, some property management companies can only be motivated by the threat of being sued. And if you make that threat, you should be ready to follow through.
Suing a property management company isn't quite the same as suing an individual landlord. Property management companies can have more resources at their disposal, meaning you're probably better off getting some legal help with a tenant's rights issue if you're dealing with a management company.
So you should talk to an experienced landlord-tenant attorney before you sue your property management company.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.