Thursday, October 1, 2020
Real EstateUK

Property mediation service launched for settling disputes out of court during Covid-19 crisis

Property UK

A mediation service has been launched by the Property Redress Scheme to keep landlords, letting agents and tenants out of court

A unique mediation service to help landlords, letting agents and tenants resolve disputes without having to resort to courts has been launched by the Property Redress Scheme.

The launch had been planned for later this year but has been brought forward as the Coronavirus crisis has heightened tensions between the players within the private rental market, particularly over rent waivers and reductions.

Its service is also in line with government evictions policy at the moment which, following its ban last month, urges tenants and landlords to talk to each other before getting legal.

Also, the director of the courts system, the Master of the Rolls, recently revealed that judges will expect both sides to show that they have tried to negotiate and reach an agreement.

And plans by the government to remove Section 21 notice evictions from the process and instead re-launch and reform Section 8 notices means, with a severely restricted ‘no fault’ route, landlords will be forced to negotiate with tenants more.

We have had the idea for a while following confirmation that the Government intends to change the way courts work and extend redress in the property sector, says Sean Hooker, Head of Redress at the Property Redress Scheme. But the unfortunate events with Coronavirus have encouraged us to accelerate access to the service.

Mediation is a voluntary, without prejudice and confidential process, which allows disputes to be resolved much quicker and with less cost than court, Hooker said.

The PRS mediation service is a telephone-based service where the initial instruction comes from the landlord.

On logging a case, an independent mediator will contact the tenant to ascertain whether they are happy to liaise with the mediator, and then discuss the issues raised with a view to coming to an agreement on either paying a reduced rent, deferred rent or settlement amount, with agreed ending of the tenancy.

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