Everyone starts out happy, but life unfolds, events play on us, and relationships can go sour. It’s good to have a mechanism in your lease for resolving disputes. The best way to avoid disputes is to communicate. If everyone understands each other’s expectations and is informed of changes, then matters can be dealt with before they explode into larger problems.
If a dispute can’t be resolved, then it’s a good practice to require the parties to mediate their disputes. If mediation doesn’t work, then the parties have two options: they can arbitrate or they can go to court. There were high hopes for arbitration, but it has turned out to be just as onerous as litigation in some cases. It’s also expensive. The parties pay for the arbitrator’s time which can be hundreds of dollars per hour, then you’re stuck with the arbitrator’s decision. You can’t appeal it. Some have said that arbitrators often just split the baby. Yet, it’s still quicker than litigation.
Litigation on the other hand takes a lot of time. The judges are busy and have many other cases. But the rules are more defined; you can appeal a decision and you don’t have to pay for the judge’s time. In Alaska there are loser pay rules and offers of judgment that help bring cases to settlement. You can ask for a settlement conference with the judge. And you can agree to waive your right to a jury trial which speeds up the process, but leaves you at the mercy of the judge.
So take these into consideration and choose your dispute resolution procedures appropriately.