Solving Tenancy Disputes Through Mediation

October 3, 2016

As a landlord, you are bound to encounter issues with a tenant at some point or another. In the majority of cases, these problems can be resolved amicably through a simple conversation. Sometimes, however, you might need the help of a mediator to resolve the issue and/or make the resolution legally binding. In today’s post we’re going to describe the benefits of mediation and explain how the mediation process works.

 

Resolving tenancy issues

Tenancy issues can range from very small to very large. Some of the most common issues include disagreements at the end of tenancy, rent arrears, and accusations of landlord or tenant negligence during the lease. On their Tenancy Services website, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment outline the four options for resolving tenancy disputes. In brief, the options are as follows:

 

  1. Self-resolution: the landlord and tenant resolve the issue on their own, typically documenting the outcome for later reference if necessary.

  2. FastTrack Resolution: this is the quickest and easiest way for the Tenancy Tribunal to formalise something that has already been agreed upon by the landlord and tenant.

  3. Mediation: if the landlord and tenant are unable to resolve an issue on their own, a mediator can help them work through the problem and come to an agreement.

  4. Tenancy Tribunal: when a landlord and tenant cannot reach an agreement, the Tenancy Tribunal can hear their case and issue a legally binding decision on the matter.

 

Benefits of mediation

If self-resolution has not been successful in resolving an issue, you are encouraged to try the mediation process before proceeding with a Tenancy Tribunal hearing. There are several benefits of using mediation, including:

  • Faster resolution of the issue (getting a Tenancy Tribunal hearing can take some time)
  • More likely to preserve a good relationship with your tenant as mediation is a less formal and more friendly process than a Tribunal hearing
  • You’re in control of the outcome – the mediator is simply there to help facilitate the discussion. In a Tribunal hearing, a decision will be handed down to you.
  • The process and decisions are confidential, whereas Tribunal hearings are part of the public record.

 

How the mediation process works

If you would like to work with a mediator to resolve a tenancy issue, you must first submit an online application to the Tenancy Tribunal. After receiving your application, the Tribunal will determine which type of mediation session (telephone or face-to-face) will be best and then schedule the session at a date and time that suits all parties. Telephone cases are cost effective and usually more convenient for all parties involved. A face-to-face mediation may be more appropriate for more complex matters or if either party is opposed to telephone mediation.

Once the mediation session is scheduled, you should prepare for the meeting. Preparation could involve gathering evidence and thinking about the outcome you would like to achieve. To help both parties adequately prepare, Tenancy Services have created a pre-mediation workbook that can be downloaded and completed before the session.

During the session, the mediator will ask you and your tenant to describe the situation from your perspectives. The mediator will then help you work through possible solutions until a resolution is agreed upon. Mediators know a lot about tenancy matters, but they are not able to make decisions for you. They are there to provide information and ensure that both parties are heard during the process.

Once a decision has been made, the mediator will review the decision to make sure both parties fully understand what is being agreed upon. The mediator then writes down the decision as a “mediated order” and sends copies to both parties. The mediator can also apply to have the agreement made legal and binding or create an attachment order if the tenant agrees to have wages taken from his/her pay to cover rent arrears. In the rare event that both parties cannot reach an agreement during mediation, the case will be referred to the Tenancy Tribunal for a hearing.

 

How we can help

There are many benefits of choosing to have First Avenue manage your rental property for you. You will benefit from our strict arrears policy, which ensures that late rental payments are addressed immediately, and our solid tenancy agreements that provide tenants with clear expectations on how they must treat the property.  When issues do arise with a property that we manage, we encourage tenants to get in touch with us immediately. Our goal is to help our clients resolve issues quickly and before they become larger problems. Should an issue require mediation, we are able to provide tenants and landlords with any necessary information they need to prepare for the case. Please contact us today to learn more about how we can help you navigate tenancy issues.

 

Photos

Resolve by dhendrix83, CC BY-ND 2.0

Contract by Jan Truter, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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