Government guidance on the new Rental Mediation Service for landlords and tenants undergoing possession proceedings has been updated.
The service is part of the government’s work with the judiciary on new court arrangements to support all parties in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and is free for all landlords and tenants undergoing possession proceedings to use. It is designed to resolve cases without the need for a face to face court hearing.
In February, a mediation pilot was introduced as part of the current court process for housing possession cases.
Under the initiative, landlords and tenants work with a trained, neutral mediator, independent from HM Courts and Tribunals Service, who will help identify issues and work to resolve them. All parties must agree on the outcome and feel they have reached an acceptable resolution.
When mediation is offered
As part of a housing possession case, the 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 both parties agree, and the case is deemed suitable, then the case will be referred to mediation. The court can then arrange for the case to be mediated.
Tenants who are interested in mediation should raise this with their duty adviser on the day of the review. Details of how to access duty advisers will be given to tenants by the court.
Landlords who are interested in mediation should raise this with their representative (if they have one), and the tenant on or before the review.
How mediation works
Mediation can be less stressful and expensive than going to a full hearing, where additional fees and expenses will apply.
It can also be quicker than a full court hearing. The Society of Mediators aims to conduct mediation remotely within 10 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. Landlords and tenants must continue to comply with all court directions.
The session is confidential.
If both parties cannot agree to a solution at mediation, the case will continue to a full hearing. The court will not be told any of the mediation details.
Mediation will be conducted remotely, by telephone, across England and Wales.
Once both parties have agreed to mediation, the details will be passed to the Society of Mediators, who will make contact by phone to arrange the mediation. They will make contact within two days of the review.
During your appointment the mediator:
will explain how the session will work and check the parties are prepared
is impartial and will treat both parties with equal confidentiality
speaks to each party separately – you do not talk directly to the other side
is neutral and helps each party explore options to try and reach agreement
does not try to force anyone to find a settlement
Get the most from mediation
For mediation to work the tenant and landlord should:
be open and flexible
be willing to work with the mediator to find a resolution
be clear with what they want to say
be able to answer any questions
have a quiet, private space where they won’t be disturbed
be available at the start of the session and throughout
Some people may find it helpful to have access to legal advice during the mediation. However, this is often not possible and mediators are aware of this.
What happens next
If mediation succeeds and both parties are happy with the proposed solution, they will sign an agreement, which will be put in front of a judge for approval. The agreement will explain what actions each party must take next.
The tenant or landlord can apply to the court to enforce the agreement if it is broken by the other party.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the case will continue to the substantive hearing. The court will not be told about anything that was said during the mediation and the process will proceed as normal.