Before choosing a lawyer to handle your landlord tenant conflict, you should consult with several different lawyers to find the best fit for you. You want to find someone with an in-depth knowledge of landlord tenant law. Learn where to find a landlord tenant lawyer and how to get a free consultation.
Reasons You May Need a Landlord Tenant Lawyer
There are a number of reasons you may want to take your landlord to court. These include:
- Landlord Is Wrongfully Withholding Your Security Deposit: Your landlord refuses to return your security deposit, and you believe you have the right to this deposit.
- Safety or Habitability Issues at the Rental Property: There are serious health or safety violations at the rental property, and your landlord has refused to fix them.
- Wrongful Eviction: Your landlord is making false claims to try and force you out of the rental property.
- Discrimination: Your landlord has discriminated against you because of your race, religion, disability or other group protected under fair housing.
- Landlord Harassment: The landlord has been harassing you or members of your household.
- Injury or Health Issue: You have been injured at the rental property or a safety issue, such as mold, has affected your health.
Where to Find One
There are several resources you can consider to find a landlord tenant lawyer. These include:
- Bar Associations: Your state or county’s bar association may provide referrals for lawyers. For example, the New York City Bar provides legal services for a number of issues, including landlord tenant conflicts.
- Referrals: Ask around. Other tenants in your building may have experience with landlord-tenant lawyers.
- Tenant Unions: Contact your local tenants’ union. They may be able to provide you with a list of lawyers that work with tenants in your area.
- Online: There are several online sites where you can search for legal counsel. These include FindLaw.com, Lawyers.com, and AVVO.com. You can usually search by zip code and the topic you are seeking counsel for. Take any online reviews with a grain of salt, however, because they can easily be made-up.
- Courthouse: Lawyers go to court. You can physically go to your local landlord-tenant court to find lawyers who practice in your area.
Some lawyers offer free consultations and others will charge a fee just for meeting with you. Once you have a list of potential lawyers you would like to contact; you can easily find out if the lawyer offers an initial consultation free of charge or if you will have to pay just to speak with the attorney. Some lawyers always offer free consultations, while others will only offer free consultations for certain cases, such as for cases where they will receive a percentage of any money awarded in court.
In certain areas, lawyers will offer free consultations once a week or once a month in a community center or other public area. For example, they have Monday Night Law, in New York City, where you can make an appointment to speak with a volunteer lawyer about your landlord tenant issue.
New York City also passed a law which provides free lawyers to tenants in the city who are facing eviction. The one catch is that to qualify for the free lawyer, the tenant must certain income qualifications.
How to Get a Consultation
Getting a consultation with a landlord tenant lawyer is pretty simple. You need to call their place of business and request a consultation. Depending on the lawyer, this consultation may take place over the phone or in person.
If you are meeting with the lawyer in person, you should make sure to bring any documentation with you that supports your case. This could include pictures, written notices, hospital bills or invoices.
Picking the Best
- Interview Several Different Lawyers: You should speak with a few different lawyers, so you have a source of comparison.
- Experience: It is important to choose a lawyer who has experience in landlord tenant law. A lawyer may have great reviews, but their area of expertise may be in property tax appeals. You want to focus on a lawyer who understands the landlord tenant rules in your state, and even more specifically, in the town where the rental property is located.
- Responsive: You want a good lawyer, but you also want one you can get in contact with. You don’t want to have to wait a week just to get a call back from a paralegal.
- Good Fit: In addition to a good, accessible lawyer, you also want someone who is a good fit for you. You do not want to be butting heads with the person who is supposed to be on your side in court.