Landlord and tenant mediation services must be offered before problems escalate
In this blog, TDS discusses what we can learn from the failure of the Government’s Rental Mediation Pilot.
Improving dispute resolution is a key part of the Government’s plans for reforming the private rented sector in England. These plans include significantly increasing the use of mediation for landlords and renters in order to avoid evictions. With more details on the Renters Reform Bill imminent, it is important that these plans are informed by evidence on what works, and what hasn’t worked.
The Rental Mediation Pilot was a scheme run by Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Ministry of Justice in 2021. It provided a free independent dispute service during landlord possession cases in the county court. Despite high hopes for the scheme, it only had 22 referrals and only 4 successful mediations. An official evaluation of the service was published earlier this year. So, what went wrong?
Building on our extensive experience of achieving early resolution within deposit disputes, TDS believes that mediation needs to be offered much earlier, and before disputes escalate to courts and tribunals. They must be designed and evaluated from the perspective of people who will be using these services. The availability of and people’s engagement with advice, information and support services are also important factors to consider.