It is rare that someone goes from living at home with their parents to buying their first house. There is usually a “stop” at living in apartments first. Actually, there could be several apartments stays that happen before that dream of owning a home becomes a reality. As an apartment renter, you will be dealing with a landlord. That could mean literally living with your landlord in a multi-unit building or dealing with a property management firm. Because you are renting your living space, there are many obligations that the landlord needs to contend with in order to have that space fall under the category of “habitable.”

You might prefer a situation where the landlord is “absent” and you take care of the minor fixes. However, you always have to remember that this isn’t your property. Some of those fixes might not be to the liking of the landlord. What happens if you have a dispute?

Here are some suggestions on the best way to deal with landlord disputes:

Start with Being a Good Tenant

Your time as a tenant should reflect favorably on you. That means paying your rent on time and not generating any complaints from the neighbors. When you’ve proven yourself to be a good tenant, then your landlord will probably be more amenable with regard to handling disputes. Keep in mind that the big disputes you would have with your landlord are mostly property issues that they need to fix regardless of their relationship with you. Every landlord wants a reliable tenant and that means they’ll do what is required to keep you paying rent on time.

Check the Lease

Your lease is the contract that you and your landlord must abide by for the duration of the tenancy. Before you raise an issue with the landlord, you need to re-read your lease to make sure that you’re on solid ground with regard to raising an issue. For instance, there might be restrictions on when you can move in furniture or how many nights a guest can stay over. If you signed the lease, then those are the conditions and rules you have to follow.

Keep Records

Before moving into an apartment, you should do a walk through with the landlord with your cellphone video camera rolling. If there is any kind of damage, then point it out to the landlord and have that backup photo/video. You could be staying at this apartment for a few years and no one is going to remember every issue before you moved in. If a problem crops up, then whip out the phone again and take pictures. If you pay for repairs, then be sure to keep all of those receipts. You might be able to use them as a deduction for your rent.

Go to Court

If after all the back and forth with your landlord and they still are resistant to make changes or repairs, then you can take them to court. You can also take them to court if they refuse to pay back your security deposit. In some states, a landlord who doesn’t notify a tenant in writing of what they are keeping the security deposit might have to pay double or triple the amount. That can only happen after a court ruling.

Hopefully, you’ll have a good relationship with your landlord as you save up to move into your first home. That is every tenant’s dream.