If you’re living in a rental apartment and you experience landlord-related problems, you shouldn’t fret. Tenant rights attorneys provide services that protect you as a tenant. In this article, we’ll discuss what a tenant rights lawyer does and what you can do to maximize their services. Ultimately, we’ll guide you around finding the right tenant rights attorney for your situation. Let’s dig into it.
What’s a Tenant Rights Attorney?
A tenant rights attorney will represent you if you have a dispute with your landlord. They help interpret lease agreements, represent you in a lawsuit, or advise you on your next steps.
While most tenant-landlord issues can be resolved in small claims courts or diplomatic discussions, some issues can seriously threaten your home security and rental enjoyment. In such cases, getting a lawyer’s help is the most effective way to uphold your tenant rights.
When to Hire a Tenant Rights Attorney
When is the right time to find and hire a tenant rights attorney? In the following scenarios, seeking the help of a lawyer can be your best course of action:
Your Landlord Plans to Evict You
If your landlord is evicting you (with proper termination notice) and you intend to fight it, a tenant rights lawyer can increase your chances of success. In this case, find a lawyer who’s had experience in fighting evictions. The lawyer must help you come up with strategies and solutions that can argue against your landlord’s decision.
Your Landlord Plans to Evict You Without Proper Procedure
Landlords must follow court procedures to legally evict you. If they use hostile or improper actions — such as locking you out, canceling your utilities, or displacing your possessions — you can hire a lawyer to call out such illegal actions.
You’re Being Discriminated
If you believe your landlord is discriminating against you, you can seek a tenant rights attorney’s help and sue. You can also file a complaint with the proper authorities, who’ll investigate your complaint. If they do find reasonable cause, they’ll assign a lawyer to represent you in the case at no cost.
Your Landlord Doesn’t Do Repairs
If your landlord refuses to make necessary repairs, it can lead to huge problems. A broken window may result in intruders coming to your house, and a broken heating system can lead to a highly unpleasant winter. In such cases, you can consult a lawyer on what to do to get your landlord’s attention.
Your Personal Property is Damaged
A landlord’s failure to maintain the property can lead to damages to your personal property. Faulty wirings can damage your furniture and appliances. Having a renter’s insurance can help you cover your losses. The insurance company’s lawyers will also seek reimbursement from your landlord.
If you don’t have insurance or its coverage is inadequate, the services of a tenant rights attorney can help you gain reimbursement from your landlord.
How to Find a Tenant Rights Lawyer
When looking for a tenant rights attorney, it’s important to look for specific rules under specific jurisdictions. Laws vary by state or province, so you must be aware of your rights’ limitations.
When that’s out of the way, focus on the following things when searching for an attorney:
- Number and Types of Cases: ask about the attorney’s track record, number of cases handled, and types of cases taken. Make sure that they haven’t worked exclusively with landlords before (the opposite is true when you’re the landlord).
- Estimate of Case and Outcomes: Ask for an estimate of how long the process should take. The lawyer should also be able to give you possible scenarios. What outcomes can be expected? What results are highly unlikely but can still happen? They should be straightforward and clear when answering these questions.
- Small Claims Court: In the US, not all small claims courts allow attorneys. As such, ask your lawyer whether they think your case will go to court. If so, ask them to lay out the roles they’ll play once in court.
- Alternatives: If you want to avoid lawsuits and litigations, ask the lawyer if there are more amicable solutions to your disputes. Arbitration and mediation shouldn’t be taken off the table.
Apart from the above-mentioned focus areas, use the following tips to enhance your search for a tenant rights attorney:
State and Local Directories
Your state bar association can provide a list of practicing attorneys in your area. Other website directories list attorneys by practice and location, so make sure to look at those.
Ask for Referrals
If you know other lawyers, it’s best to ask them for recommendations. Even if they specialize in another area of law, they might be able to point you in the right direction; they may have personal or professional connections to great tenant rights lawyers in your area.
Consult Multiple Lawyers
To find the best attorney on your list, it’s best to consult each of them. If possible, schedule individual appointments with them to get to know them more. Even though you won’t be hiring all of them, you might encounter some who you can work with in the future.
While you’re at it, note how accessible and responsive they are. You want someone reachable even during non-emergency situations. Make clear comparisons on their services, professionalism, accomplishments, and expertise.
Ask Their Fee Structure and Billing Process
Attorneys have various fee structures. From the get-go, the lawyer’s fee structure should be clarified to you. At the same time, you should ask probing questions about their billing process. This will help you understand deeply how much each lawyer is going to cost you, helping you determine which one of them has the most reasonable pricing.
Other Possible Engagements
Once you find the best tenant rights attorney to handle your case, ask them if you can call them from time to time to seek legal advice. Inquire about their fee structure for this, as some of them may charge on a per-hour basis.
Should you move out and find another rental property, it’s also wise to hire an attorney to create or at least check your lease agreement with the landlord. This helps avoid future problems in your rental space.
Check out our housing law articles to see more articles like this.
About The Author: Michael is an aspiring lawyer who likes to spend his free time researching different topics of law, especially about what is legal and what is not. He enjoys reading articles, watching documentaries, and attending lectures to become more informed about the law. He hopes that one day he will be able to use this knowledge to help people in need. Michael also has a passion for writing which led him to pursue journalism as his minor in college.
Through his studies, he has learned how to write professionally with clarity and precision. He is currently writing a novel about the life of a young lawyer who fights for justice in a world that is filled with corruption. Michael hopes to use his skills in writing and researching to pursue a career as an attorney one day. In addition, he also volunteers at legal aid clinics to gain more experience. From this volunteering experience, he has been able to help people better understand their rights and the legal system.
Michael is a dedicated individual with a passion for law and writing, and these qualities make him an excellent candidate for any legal field. He is eager to use his skillset to prove himself as a lawyer in order to contribute in making the world a better place.