Julie Ford, a Property Redress Scheme (PRS) Tenancy Mediator with over 25 years’ experience of working in the private rented sector, discusses what property mediation is and its importance. Julie works as a consultant, supporting landlords and letting agents who have problem tenants, especially those with rent arrears.

Julie Ford, a Property Redress Scheme (PRS) Tenancy Mediator

What is mediation?

Most people will associate mediation with either family issues or divorce. We know mediation is very effective during the divorce process and for that reason it is often a requirement that couples go through mediation before they can apply for a divorce. However, mediation is now playing a bigger part in the private rented sector, especially now that notice periods have been extended and the court process for landlords seeking possession of their property is much longer than we were used to before the pandemic.

Mediation is simply a way of settling disputes between two parties. The two parties are helped by a trained impartial third party (the mediator) to put forward their views and come to a mutually agreeable outcome. It is then common for the outcome to be made legally binding through a signed agreement.

People choose to use mediation because it is much cheaper and quicker than going through the courts. But it also has the advantage that it often leads to longer lasting agreements, because both parties are empowered to solve their dispute to achieve a “win-win” solution.

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What is mediation when it comes to property?

Rather than going through the courts to resolve issues such as rent arrears and repossessions, landlords and tenants can use mediation instead. It works in almost the same way as other areas of the law. The mediator simply helps the landlord and tenant discuss the issue and come to an agreement. This could take the form of payment plans, repossession dates and more. After the agreement is reached a document is drafted and signed by both parties to make it legally binding.

Because of the eviction ban, the courts are currently backed up with cases going all the way back to March 2020. For landlords who are owed rent or just want to get their property back, it is much quicker to do this through mediation.

PRS Tenancy Mediation uses trained mediators to ensure that there is a mutually beneficial outcome for both parties (tenant and landlord). We understand that both the landlord and the tenant are likely to be experiencing difficulties associated with financial issues. We are there to help facilitate a good outcome for both parties, but particularly to ensure the best outcome for the landlord.

Julie has recorded an informational video detailing the most important elements of this topic.

Setting up payment plans with tenants

We have had many successes in recent months, such as this one where the landlord recovered 100% of her rent arrears by using PRS tenancy mediation. We’ve been able to set up payment plans with tenants and facilitated deeds of surrender, helping landlords get their properties back without having to go through the entire court process. This saves landlords time, money and stress in preventing lost rent and court fees. This is extremely important in the current climate, with courts anticipated to buckle under pressure once the eviction ban restrictions end.

Importance of tenancy mediation

There is a huge backlog in the court system due to COVID-19, with repossessions taking at least a year to resolve and most cases entering the system now not likely to be completed until well into 2022. Mediation helps keep the property industry flowing – there will be an even greater need for end of tenancy mediation when the Section 21 process is removed as part of the Renters’ Reform Bill. From our point of view as mediators we are here to help and guide, enabling landlords to engage and communicate more effectively with their tenants and resolve issues without the need to go to court.

Next steps

If you have a tenant who is not paying the rent on time or is not paying full rent and the communication has broken down, get in touch with us. By opening up dialogue again and getting the ball rolling, we are sure we will be able to get you the outcome that you would like. Get in touch with the PRS Tenancy Mediation Service today and speak to one of our trained mediators, who will be able to guide you through the process.

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