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Guides

Rental Mediation Service For Landlords And Tenants

Rental Mediation Service For Landlords And Tenants

Tenants and landlords sometimes have disagreements that end up in court. Going to court takes time and is often costly. Thanks to the new mediation service, going to court isn’t the only way to resolve issues as a landlord or tenant.

In February 2021, the UK government launched a mediation pilot to support landlords and tenants in resolving disputes without going to court for face-to-face hearings.

The service is scheduled to last for six months and is part of the government’s measures to ease pressures on the court and support all parties in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. You can access the service as a landlord or tenant in private and social rented sectors across England and Wales.

Here’s everything you need to know about the rental mediation service:

Service Details

The meditation service is used by landlords or tenants involved in housing possession court cases. The best part is that it’s free, and it can help you save a lot of money. Court hearings usually involve additional expenses and fees, but you can now avoid these costs through mediation.

Under the mediation service, landlords and tenants work with trained neutral mediators independent of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service. The mediators help you pinpoint the exact issues and work to resolve them. Agreement from all parties on the outcome is necessary. They have to feel they have reached an acceptable resolution.

When Is Mediation Offered?

Once a landlord goes to court for the purpose of possession of a rented home, the housing possession case is listed for review before any substantial court hearing.

At the review stage, tenants are given free legal advice by duty advisers and try to resolve the issue with the landlord. If an agreement is not reached at review and both parties agree over mediation, and the case is deemed suitable, it will be referred to a mediator by the court.

Keep in mind that:

  • If you’re a tenant interested in mediation, you have to raise this on the review day with the duty adviser.
  • If you’re a landlord interested in mediation, you have to raise this on or before the review with the tenant and your representative.

How Does It Work?

After you have both agreed to mediation, your details are passed to the Society of Mediators. You’ll then be contacted through a phone call to arrange for the mediation, which will be conducted remotely by the Society of Mediators within ten days after referral.

Once mediation is successful, the court will be informed, and the case closed. If both parties cannot agree on a solution at mediation, the case continues to a full hearing.

Note that tenants cannot use mediation as a tactic to delay evictions or an ongoing court process. It may help you avoid a full court hearing, but you still have to comply with all directives from the court. It’s also not mandatory for the landlord to go to mediation when asked by the tenant. Nothing adverse is noted if they fail to agree at mediation.

What Happens During Mediation?

During mediation, you’ll work with mediators who are independent of the court. Their job is to identify the issues that have led to the possession proceedings and resolve them.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • The mediator will explain how the session will work and determine if you’re both prepared.
  • The mediator will remain impartial and treat both parties equally.
  • During mediation, landlords and tenants don’t speak to each other. The mediator speaks to each party separately, and neither side can hear the other’s discussion.
  • The mediator remains neutral and does their best to help each party explore options and reach an agreement.
  • The mediator cannot try to force you to reach an agreement.

What Are The Benefits Of Mediation?

Stress-Free And Quick

Mediations can save you from the headache of courts, and they’re a less stressful option. They’re also conducted within ten days, which makes them quicker than a full court hearing.

Entirely Confidential

You don’t have to worry about airing your dirty linen in public. All sessions are strictly confidential, and even if you fail to come to a solution and the case goes to a full hearing, the details remain confidential.

Additionally, the sessions don’t need a face-to-face meeting and are conducted remotely through telephone. Mediators contact each party separately, so you won’t have to speak to the other party at any point.

Why not visit or contact your local Ashtons branch?

It’s Free And Doesn’t Affect the Eviction Process

You have nothing to lose for taking part in the mediation process. A settlement is not mandatory at mediation, and it will not delay your ongoing court process. Nothing changes in the eviction process for landlords and proceedings can still be issued as usual. With the ban on bailiff-led evictions having been lifted in May, you can apply for enforcement and even evictions on tenants who have broken their agreements.

Best of all, the rental mediation service is free and will potentially save you money, so why not give it a try?

What Is Required For Mediation To Work?

The government notes that for the rental mediation service to work, you as a landlord or tenant should;

  • Remain flexible and open-minded.
  • Have the willingness to collaborate and work with the mediator in finding a satisfactory resolution.
  • Be clear and straightforward with what you want to say.
  • Be willing and capable of answering any questions directed to you.
  • Be in a private and quiet space where you won’t be disturbed during the mediation.
  • Avail yourself at the beginning of the session and remain present throughout the process.

What Happens After Mediation

If the mediation is successful and you’re happy with the proposed solution, you’ll both sign a form outlining the agreement’s terms. It will then be taken in front of a judge for approval. The actions that each party must take next will be outlined in the agreement.

In case the other party breaks the agreement, you can apply for enforcement by the courts.

If the mediation is unsuccessful, your case goes on as usual in court with a substantive hearing. The case proceeds as expected, and the court is not informed of any mediation attempt or anything discussed during mediation.

Last Word

If you’re stuck in the middle of a dispute with your tenants and can’t seem to find a way out, mediation may be the way to go. This keeps the entire situation above board and professional.

Resources: 

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/rental-mediation-services

If you’d like to find out more about how Ashtons can help you contact one of our branches for further information.

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