Landlord and Tenant Mediation
When an issue arises with your tenants or landlord, mediation is a viable option for reaching a solution that works for both parties. Even if one of the parties will not speak to you on the phone, a skilled and experienced mediator may get him/her to the table.
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process in which two or more parties discuss a matter of conflict with assistance from an unbiased, neutral third-party; a mediator. Mediators are educated, trained, and certified to conduct mediations.
What are the roles of each party in mediation?
Both the landlord and tenant should come to mediation prepared to tell their version of what happened, prepared to listen to the views of the other side, prepared to clearly state their ideas for resolving the dispute, and willing to negotiate a settlement agreement that will be mutually satisfying for both sides in good faith. The tenant and landlord, in addition to any representatives who have the authority to make a binding decision must attend the mediation.
The mediator listens to all parties and guides the parties in clarifying and discussing the issues, identifying areas of agreement, developing possible solutions, and writing their own mutually satisfying agreement.
How long does mediation last?
We schedule mediations for a minimum of three hours, more time will be scheduled as required. We find a three-hour window allows all parties sufficient times to discuss their issues at length and reach a compromise all parties are ready to move forth with. It also allows ample time for breaks, as required.
Is mediation confidential?
Mediation communications are confidential. Participants to a mediation must be able to rely on the confidentiality of the process if they are going to be candid with the mediator about their issues, settlement positions and other sensitive issues. Both parties are asked to respect the confidentiality of the process by not disclosing information that is discussed in the course of the mediation session. We ask all parties to sign a confidentiality agreement prior to commencing any mediation discussions.
What happens at negotiations?
The parties, with the help of the mediator, brainstorm possible solutions to the issues at hand. The parties will essentially explore interests and develop options that satisfy all or part of the interests to the parties to the dispute. It is of the utmost important to enter into negotiations with good faith and with a view to a resolution.
Can I speak to the mediator in private during mediation?
From time to time during the negotiation phase of the mediation, the mediator or the participants may decide that it would be beneficial for the parties to meet with the mediator separately. This process is called Caucus.
Discussions held in caucus are kept confidential from the other party. The mediator will not share those discussions with the other side unless specifically asked to do so.
What happens once the parties have come to a resolution?
Once the parties have reached an agreement on all or some of the issues being mediated, the parties along with the mediator's assistance will draft a written Minutes of Settlement. It is important to remember that this settlement must be satisfactory to both sides. This agreement is a legally binding contract and must be entered into by both parties in good faith. A mediator will request that you bring said agreement to your lawyer prior to executing same. This is called obtaining independent legal advice. The agreement will state that all parties have had an opportunity to obtain independent legal advice.
Who signs the Minutes of Settlement?
All parties will sign and date the Minutes of Settlement. The agreement once signed is considered to be final and is enforceable. You will receive a copy once all parties have had a chance to obtain independent legal advice and all parties have signed.
What if one of the parties refuses to abide to the terms of the executed agreement?
Let us say, for example, if the tenant defaults on one of the terms of the Minutes of Settlement. In this case, the landlord would still be able to file a claim in Landlord and Tenant Court, accordingly. Once a resolution is reached and Minutes of Settlement executed, it is in everyone's best interest to adhere to all terms and conditions, to avoid court action and further legal and/or court costs. Remember, this agreement is legally binding.