Are there low-cost options for settling landlord-tenant disputes?


A KFOX14 viewer named Mona asked for help with a common legal issue: resolving a landlord-tenant dispute.

Mona said she and her fiance had to go to New Jersey for three months to help her mother after she suffered a stroke.

When they returned to El Paso, Mona learned that her landlord had evicted the couple and sold their belongings.

She said they're on a fixed income and can't afford the retainer fee lawyers were asking for. So she wanted to know if there were other options.

There are a variety of options you can look into.

One is Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid Inc. It provides legal help to income-eligible El Pasoans.

But I learned when calling the various phone numbers provided by the group that it’s difficult to get through. I didn’t have any luck.

The message on their toll-free number said they get a lot more calls each day than they can handle and if I couldn't get through to someone within 15 minutes, I'd be disconnected. But I should keep trying and I’d eventually get through.

Another option is the El Paso County Dispute Resolution Center. It has a couple of offices in town to provide mediation services for legal disputes including landlord-tenant issues, if you're willing to pay a $20 non-refundable filing fee.

Also in El Paso County, you can take your case, without a lawyer, to a justice of the peace, or in New Mexico, you can take the dispute to magistrate court. Both courts handle civil cases that involve less than $10,000. The people involved in the dispute simply make their case to the judge, who then decides how to settle it.

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