Strathclyde Housing Mediation Project
Disputes between landlords and tenants in the private rented sector are always challenging; during a pandemic they are especially fraught. Economic insecurity and heightened anxiety mean disagreements can escalate into major disputes, and the Scottish Government’s moratorium may simply be delaying an inevitable rise in eviction cases.
In response Strathclyde Mediation Clinic has relaunched its Housing Mediation Project, funded by Safe Deposits Scotland Charitable Trust. With a focus on early intervention, our free, confidential mediation service is available to private rented sector landlords, tenants and agents across Scotland. It is suitable for those using a tenancy deposit scheme, as well as factors, letting agents and others involved in housing disputes.
Mediation makes particular sense for housing matters. Cost-effective, efficient and pragmatic, it is less damaging to relationships than formal action. The consensual approach means agreements are more likely to be fulfilled, reducing the risk of eviction.
The earlier disputes are dealt with the more likely they are to be settled, avoiding the risk of escalating conflict and resultant costs. Nonetheless mediation can assist at all stages in disputes, including negotiating payment plans. Issues addressed include repairs, billing, communication, rent arrears and communal disputes. Our team is happy to answer enquiries from landlords and agents about particular situations.
How does housing mediation work?
We offer each party an initial conversation with a mediator, who explains what is involved and assesses suitability. Mediation can be speedily arranged, usually within two to four weeks. Meetings currently take place via telephone conference or Zoom.
Two mediators conduct each session. Their role is to help people communicate effectively and evaluate possible solutions and their consequences, creating opportunities for parties to work together to resolve their dispute themselves. All sessions are private and confidential, so nothing said in mediation can be used in court or tribunal. Legal rights are preserved and no-one is disadvantaged by attempting mediation.
In mediation the parties are the decision-makers. They have a hand in shaping agreements and are more likely to arrive at an outcome that suits everyone. For an ongoing tenancy this creates a safe space for tenant and landlord to begin to rebuild a working relationship whilst also resolving the matter at hand.
Clients tell us neither side wants the stress of the adversarial process yet see little alternative to the courts or the First Tier Tribunal. While these options remain available they mean handing over decision-making power. By attempting mediation first, landlords and tenant get the chance to communicate directly and restore their relationship for the longer term.
If you have an issue you would like to discuss or wish to know more about the University of Strathclyde Mediation Clinic Housing Project, contact us directly to arrange a chat with Pauline McKay, Housing Mediation Project Development Worker:
t: 0141 548 4510