A new tenancy mediation service for landlords and tenants has successfully resolved 50% of cases where the renter was willing to engage since launching three months ago.
The service, which is also open to appointed letting agents, was launched by the Property Redress Scheme (PRS), with a view to helping find a resolution over issues that have arisen during a tenancy.
The mediation service, a voluntary, without prejudice and confidential process, which allows disputes to be resolved much quicker and with less cost than court, had long been in the planning pipeline but was brought forward to support landlords and tenants struggling with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To date, of the total number of mediation requests sent out, just 6% have declined the service, 45% have not responded. However, where tenants were willing to engage, half of cases resulted in a successful resolution, which includes a mediation repayment agreement, or the parties reaching their own solution after using the service.
Sean Hooker, head of redress for the PRS, said: “From a standing start, and with numbers which should improve as mediations which are currently in progress come to a close, we’re delighted with these early results.
“In just a short space of time, we have created a ‘softer’ solution than the formal legal process, with the added bonus of reducing conflict and saving unnecessary costs and court time.
“As this process develops and our mediators learn more about the most common issues raised, and subsequently the best ways to engage with tenants, we expect the numbers to continue to improve.”
With current court cases suspended until 23 August 2020 and a significant backlog of possession cases, many landlords are being urged by the government to engage with tenants and try to reach out of court agreements.
Tim Frome, legal director, Landlord Action, commented: “The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has confirmed that the government is working with the Master of the Rolls to widen the existing ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings to require private landlords to adhere to the same rules as social landlords before issuing possession proceedings.
“This means that mediation is more important than ever. Once the current Covid-19 related delay on issuing eviction proceedings has ended, landlords will be required to reach out to tenants to understand their financial position before taking possession action through the courts. The aim of the protocol is to encourage landlords and tenants to work together to agree on an affordable rent repayment plan if their tenants fall into rent arrears.”