The organisation behind a new mediation service for landlords has been pleased with its early results.
In March 2020, Property Redress Scheme launched a tenancy mediation service for landlords (or letting agents, Legal Expenses and Rent Guarantee Insurers acting on their behalf) and tenants to aid finding a resolution over tenancy disputes. Preliminary reports from the first three months show the service has been able to resolve 50% of cases where the tenant was willing to engage.
To date, of the total number of mediation requests sent out, only 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, and/or the parties reaching their own solution after using the service.
Sean Hooker, head of redress for the Property Redress Scheme, 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, landlords are being urged by government to engage with tenants and try to reach out of court agreements.
Tim Frome, legal director at Landlord Action, added: “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.”