Pilot arrears mediation scheme can help agents deal with backlog of evictions

A pilot of the government’s Housing Possession Mediation Scheme can help letting agencies and landlords recover arrears without lengthy waits for court evictions, according to PayProp.

Launched recently by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the free arrears mediation service aims to help parties resolve disputes more quickly without the need for court action.

Mediation can be requested by landlords or tenants at the review stage of their possession case. Once a case has been referred, the Society of Mediators aims to conduct the confidential mediation process remotely within 10 days.

During a mediation appointment, the mediator will speak to each party separately to help them explore their options and reach an agreement. If unsuccessful, the case will continue to a substantive face-to-face court hearing.

If the mediation succeeds, an agreement which explains what actions each party must take next will be signed and brought before a judge for approval. If the agreement is broken by either party, the other party can apply for the court to enforce it.

Neil Cobbold, chief sales officer at PayProp, said: “Mediation will not solve every issue between landlords and their tenants. However, if approached by both parties to the rental agreement with an open mind and flexibility, the government’s mediation scheme can help to remove the need to go to court, which is usually in everyone’s best interests.

Neil Cobbold

“The scheme is new this year, so it’s important that letting agents make landlords aware of how it works so they can assess all the options available to them when attempting to repossess a property.”

PayProp believes that the mediation scheme could be an important resource for letting agents and landlords over the coming months as the industry prepares for the end of the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions, currently scheduled to be lifted on 31 May.

Cobbold continued: “Even before the pandemic, pursuing possession of a property through the courts could be time-consuming and expensive. Due to the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic, a huge number of cases from last year are yet to be heard by the courts.”

Cobbold warns that any landlord starting the eviction process now could have to wait months before their case is heard in court.

He added: “Alternatives such as the Housing Possession Mediation Scheme could be a lifeline to those who have already been dealing with issues for a prolonged period – while also freeing up court time for those cases where a mediated agreement can’t be reached.

“When independent mediation works, it can help property professionals to come to an agreement with tenants, sustain tenancies and recover arrears more quickly than pursuing an eviction and a County Court Judgement.”

He advises all agents to put processes in place to reduce the chances of arrears becoming serious in the first place.

He went on: “This includes keeping digital records of all payments, while also chasing rent automatically using the most effective methods of communication.”

“Educating tenants about the financial support options available to them and organising affordable repayment plans can help landlords and agents to collect more of the rent they are owed,” he adds.

“By having these measures in place, agencies can add value for landlords from the start of a tenancy and reduce the chances of court eviction action being required at a later date.”

 

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10 Comments

  1. Will2

    So always on the landlord or agents     Whatever happened to tenants taking responsibility for complying with and honouring the contracts they signed? The government placing of additional rules and regulations to burden landlords whilst the courts stop working and getting themselves bogged down even further with government complications and unnecessary red tape they introduced to fool the public into thinking they care. Obfuscation the tool of politicians.

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  2. MickRoberts

    They han’t got a clue. We know some tenants just don’t want to work with anyone. Ok, she’s £1000 in arrears, what is mediation gonna’ do? Just prolong the agony of the Landlord even further. As Will2 says, make them responsible. There will always be some that are utter bas__ds. This Govt ought to ask us Why there is a problem? They trust the tenant with UC money and say you are responsible enough to hand over the rent. Yet the Govt say they aren’t responsible enough to check their own smoke alarm & if some’at happens, Landlord going to prison.

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  3. Trisha H

    Always amazes me why landlords don’t  take out rent and legal protection policies for each tenancy, £200 per year it’s a no brainer.  Would you buy a car and not insure it? then dont put a tenant into a proeprty without rent and legal protection policy SIMPLES

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    1. MickRoberts

      It’s a bit more difficult when you’ve got dozens of tenants who’s been with u 24 years who’s on Benefits that wouldn’t qualify for the insurances.

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      1. Trisha H

        So if I am reading your post correctly you have a tenant who you have had for 24 years all of a sudden stops paying rent I find this hard to believe.  As long as a tenant even DSS and or Guarantor passes a tenant reference with any of the tenant reference companies (and there is plenty of them) in the market a rent and legal protection policy can be purchased on any new tenancy.  Most of the tenant reference companies are even offering the policies on current tenancies as long as no historical rent arrears.

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        1. Will2

          When  I spoke with the referencing company 9 months ago they would only consider DSS with a guarantor.  Why would I want a tenant that can’t afford the rent (in the eyes of the referencing company)? why would I want a tenant who can’t be relied upon without a guarantor (in the eyes of the referencing company)? why would I want to pay even more money out to administer a guarantor?  why would I want to pay another load of referencing fees for a guarantor since the banning of fees? Moreover, why would I want anyone that relies on suspect advice from a council (such as stay put until the bailif arrives even if you have a court order which the council have incited a tenant to ignore a court order)? Oh yes because I would be discriminating to the eyes of the perverted minded do gooders who don’t risk their own money and bad mouth all landlords because of a few rogues landlords. Something I call risk assessment and not discrimination. All this nonesense because politicans buy their votes from tenants and there are more tenants than landlords!!!! I think CountryLass sees a clear picture.

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          1. MickRoberts

            U say it perfectly Will2, U in the world I am in.Yes 9+ million tenants jump for joy when they hear Rent holiday. Govt get more votes.2 million Landlords sigh, lots pack up, more selective next time, less choice, rents go up, tenants end up worse off. And the cycle continues. 

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        2. MickRoberts

          Who said she’s stopped paying rent?
          Why would u find it hard to believe?
          My current tenants are brilliant, but that’s only cause I had to evict 13 people when Licensing & UC came into Nottingham.

          Don’t know where u from, but Guarantor? I think u need to get in the real DSS world.

          Put my name in Google & then see if I’m hard to believe.

          No historical rent arrears? Wow I wish.

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  4. CountryLass

    I am not entirely clear on the purpose of this mediation?

    LL “you owe £2,000 in rent, I want my money and my house back!”

    T “I’ll give you £50 and I stay here.”

    LL “No.”

    Surely the Agent will have tried to find some way of getting the arrears paid before eviction proceedings are started?

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    1. Will2

      Lovely logic!!!

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