Back in February of this year, the Government set up a new mediation pilot for possession cases in England and Wales. The aim is to help landlords and tenants reach an agreement over possession without the need for a formal court hearing, improve the eviction process and take some of the weight off the courts, which still have a significant backlog of cases.
Five key things to know about the process:
1. You can access it if you've already begun a possession claim to evict your tenant
Once the court has scheduled a review date, your tenant can access free legal advice from the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme. If you both agree to mediation, the possession case will then be referred to the Society of Mediators.
2. It's completely confidential
You work with an independent mediator to identify and resolve issues. The sessions are conducted remotely by phone and you and your tenant are each contacted separately, meaning you don’t have to speak to each other directly. If you don’t reach an agreement and the full hearing goes ahead, the court is not informed about any details of the mediation.
3. It's quicker than a court hearing - and probably less stressful
The mediation should take place within 10 days of referral. If an acceptable resolution is reached, you sign an agreement that explains what actions each party must take, which is put to a judge for approval. (If you can’t reach an agreement, the full hearing will go ahead as scheduled.)
4. It's free!
If you can reach an out-of-court agreement, you won’t have to pay the additional fees and expenses of a full court hearing – and the mediation service itself is free.
5. There's nothing to lose
The overall length of the possession process isn’t affected by mediation – i.e. your original scheduled court date will still stand if you don’t reach a resolution. And if you do come to an agreement and the tenant then breaks it, you can apply to the court for enforcement.
Full information is available on the GOV.UK website.