Practice Pointers: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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As a landlord/tenant attorney, I have learned that sometimes the simplest advice is the best.  It is common, especially with contentious landlord/tenant relationships, for allegations to surface regarding the failure of one party to properly maintain the property.  When one of these situations arises, the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” has much meaning.  This advice comes into play when dealing with allegations by both landlords and tenants alike regarding poor conditions in rental property.

In law, it is not what you know; it is what you can prove.  An allegation that a tenant has damaged the rental property, or a claim that a landlord has not properly fixed something in the unit, means little if you cannot prove it. One’s testimony on these matters is helpful, but the best proof is photographic evidence.  If you find yourself in such a scenario, do yourself a favor and take good pictures of what you want the court to see.  To leave no doubt that the picture was taken at a certain date, include a copy of the daily newspaper in the pictures.  Everyone today has a smartphone and/or tablet, and there is really no excuse for not documenting this evidence.  And you do not need to wait until a problem has arisen to do this; both landlords and tenants should take pictures of rental property before and after moving into the unit.  If problems arise, these photos can make or break your case.

If you ever do need to show these photos to the court, remember that the court will generally not look at these pictures on your phone and/or tablet.  You will need hard copies of these photos, so print these pictures in advance of your court date.

Moreoever, photos are often the preferred means of presenting unfavorable rental conditions in court.  Believe it or not, some tenants have come to court with dead rodents and bedbugs to present as evidence; something the court will not be happy about!  A picture is the much better alternative.

Are you in such a scenario?  Contact me for a consultation.