The government has published guidance on its evictions mediation service first revealed in February.
Now that the ban on bailiff evictions has lifted and possession hearings can proceed more normally, landlords and tenants are being encouraged to consider the free service which aims to resolve cases without the need for a face-to-face court hearing.
Landlords interested in mediation need to raise this with their solicitor and the tenant on or before the review stage.
If an agreement can’t be reached then, and a case is deemed suitable, it’s referred for mediation where a neutral independent mediator will help identify issues and work to resolve them.
The Society of Mediators promises to make contact within two days of the review and will speak to each party separately so that landlords don’t have to talk directly to their tenant.
All parties must agree on the outcome and feel they have reached an acceptable resolution. If mediation is successful, an agreement is signed for approval by a judge explaining what actions each must take next. However, if agreement can’t be reached, the case will continue to a substantive hearing where the court will not be told any of the mediation details.
Mediation can be less stressful and expensive than a full hearing, as well as quicker, says the government; the Society of Mediators aims to conduct it remotely within 10 days of referral.
Timothy Douglas (pictured), Propertymark’s policy and campaigns manager, is keen to see proof of its effectiveness.
He says: “We recognise the role that mediation can play in dispute resolution. However, it is essential that we see the results of the recent pilot and outcomes of reviews to determine whether it can take the pressure off the court system and be a viable option for the private rented sector in the long run, especially with the court backlog caused by the crisis.”
Find out about other kinds of mediation.