Disputes over rent, maintenance of rental property, eviction and security deposits are handled by several landlord-tenant offices in Northern Virginia.

These offices have booklets about rental obligations and rights, sample leases and forms that are used for filing complaints or taking such remedial action as paying rent into a court escrow account.

They also refer complaints they cannot handle to the proper agencies and give advice on whether to seek legal counsel.

Alexandria's Tenant-Landlord Relations Office has a revised handbook that will be available soon. It also records complaints by apartment complex and makes a list of them available to prospective renters. Its address is 405 Cameron St. Phone 838-4545.

Arlington County Community Affairs Department includes a Housing Section, which offers mediation services and information, including an apartment guide to Arlington County that lists apartment complexes and their amenities. The address is 2100 14th St. N. Phone 558-2355.

Fairfax County's Office of Consumer Affairs licenses guns and massage parlors but also addresses tenant-landlord complaints. It offers a voluntary, but binding, mediation service by a three-citizen panel appointed by the Board of Supervisors and trained in arbitration. The address is 4031 University Dr. Phone 691-3214.

For residents of localities lacking tenant-landlord services, the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs' branch in Fairfax City offers the same inspection, mediation and referral services. The address is 3016 Williams Drive in Fairfax. Phone 573-1286.

General district courts in Fairfax and Arlington have jurisdiction over civil claims, such as landlord-tenant disputes, of up to $7,000. Alexandria is the only local jurisdiction with a small-claims court, where disputes over amounts up to $500 may be taken.