From Robert Ulph on April 16, 2021
Last week details of the Government’s housing possession mediation service were released, as part of the current court process for housing possession cases.
The mediation pilot is free to use for landlords and tenants involved in a housing possession court case and aims to helps resolve cases without the need for a face-to-face court hearing. A trained, neutral mediator, independent from HM Courts and Tribunals Service, will help to identify issues and work to resolve them.
The service is part of the Government’s work with the judiciary on new court arrangements to support all parties in response to COVID-19. Details of the other arrangements are available in COVID-19 and renting guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities.
As part of a housing possession case, a case will be listed by the court for review. This is before any substantive court hearing. At review, the tenant can access free legal advice from duty advisers. If an agreement is not reached at review, and the case is deemed suitable, then the case will be referred to mediation. The court can then arrange for a case to be mediated.
The Society of Mediators aims to conduct mediation remotely within ten days of referral. If mediation is successful, the court will then be informed, and the case closed. While mediation may help avoid a full court hearing, it will not delay any ongoing court process and all court directions must continue to be complied with.
If both parties cannot agree to a solution at mediation, a case will continue to a full hearing. The court will not be told any of the mediation details.
I would add that as with other issues in the current situation, if any landlord is unsure about what this could mean to them or if they are already being adversely affected financially with mortgage payments and lost rent, I cannot stress enough to seek professional advice. I would also really urge any tenants who are facing financial difficulties to contact their landlord or letting agent as soon as possible to discuss what the options might be, as it is best to avoid rent arrears and any uncertainty.
I would also remind that the current situation is not an automatic green light for tenants to assume that they can simply stop paying their rent as this could have long-term implications for their landlord and on the future of their rental.
At Pennington we can advise what can be arranged so that both tenants and landlord come through this uncertain time in the best way. So as always if you need advice on this or anything else on the local property market, please call me as I am always happy to help.