The government has revised its guidelines for its new mediation scheme, which it says will avoid some possessions now that the eviction ban has finally been lifted.
The mediation system is free to use for landlords and tenants and will involve as a third party an independent trained neutral mediator to help identify issues and work to resolve them.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says this scheme may be quicker than a full court hearing - remote mediation is likely to happen within 10 days of referral.
Then, following one or more meditation sessions, “if mediation succeeds and you are happy with the proposed solution, you will sign an agreement, which will be put in front of a judge for approval. The agreement will explain what actions each party [landlord and tenant] must take next.”
You can see the revised guidelines here.
In addition to the lifting of the eviction ban, from today the eviction notice periods - previously extended to six months during much of the pandemic - will reduce to four months, and if the roadmap out of lockdown continues as planned, notice periods will return to just two months from October 1.
The landlords’ trade body, the National Residential Landlords Association, has welcomed the end of the eviction ban and the reduction in notice periods, but it says financial help for disadvantaged tenants remains a priority.
“We want to see tenancies sustained wherever possible and call on the Chancellor to step in and provide affected tenants with the financial support they need to pay off rent arrears built as a result of the pandemic” explains NRLA chief executive Ben Beadle.
Housing minister Chris Pincher says: “As Covid restrictions are eased in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we will ensure tenants continue to be supported with longer notice periods, while also balancing the need for landlords to access justice.”
Rental sector expert and market commentator Neil Cobbold - chief sales officer at automated rental payment service provider PayProp - suggests the change this week presents agents with a chance to show their value to landlord customers.
He says: "It is an opportunity to rethink the current eviction system in order to reduce backlogs and reach fair outcomes more quickly. We’ve already seen the government trialling a mediation service to solve landlord-tenant disputes before a full court hearing.
“If the trials are successful, this can become accepted practice and really help to lessen the number of disputes between the main parties involved in a rental transaction.”
He says in extreme circumstances - where severe rental arrears or anti-social behaviour are involved – legal action may remain a necessity but a reduction in disputes that can be settled outside of court will speed up the genuinely required law cases.
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