Your guide to the Housing Possession Mediation Service [blog + infosheet]

27 April 2021

A mediation pilot was announced in February 2021 as part of the court process for housing possession cases, and the government has now introduced guidelines for the full Housing Possession Mediation Service. Here are the key details that you and your landlords should know.

In February 2021, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced a new mediation pilot in England and Wales, free to landlords and tenants and supporting the current court process for housing possession cases. The government has now released details of the process, in the form of the Housing Possession Mediation Service.

Why was the Housing Possession Mediation Service set up?

The aim of the mediation pilot is to help landlords and tenants reach an "acceptable resolution." It will also help the parties avoid fees and expenses that come with court hearings, and reach a resolution more quickly.

This new step in the possession process was created in line with the government's goal to find "new court arrangements to support all parties in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)" and will help mitigate "the risk of tenants becoming homeless and helping to sustain tenancies where possible".

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When could mediation take place?

Before any court hearing, the court will list the possession case for review. The tenant will have the chance to "access free legal advice'' at this point and both tenants and landlords should raise their potential interest in the mediation process on the day of the review.

The case will be recommended for mediation if no agreement is reached at the review stage; if both the landlord and tenant agree to go through with the mediation process; and if the case is "deemed suitable".

How will it work?

The Society of Mediators will contact the tenant and landlord separately by phone within two days of the review, to organise the mediation - they'll have no direct contact with each other during the remote mediation.

The "trained, neutral mediator" will then take steps to explain how the session will work and help each side explore the options available to help everyone reach an agreement - but won't force either side to reach a settlement. All conversations are confidential.

It's important to note that the mediation process sits alongside the ongoing court process and won't delay it - in fact, the whole mediation process should take place "within 10 days of referral". All parties must continue to follow "court directions" throughout.

How can landlords and tenants make the most of the process?

All parties should go into the process aiming to be open and flexible, and willing to work towards a solution. All calls should be taken in a quiet and private space, and everyone should give clear answers, and be ready on time and available for the full session.

What happens after mediation?

If the issue is mediated successfully, a signed agreement, explaining the actions each party has to take, will be sent to the judge for approval and to close the case. If no resolution is found, the substantive hearing and remaining process will take place as normal. Details of the mediation won't be discussed during the hearing.

This article is intended as a guide only. For full details, visit gov.uk.

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