Landlords and tenants are in a business relationship. But unlike typical business transactions, the emotions of landlord/tenant disputes tend to run higher. When a tenant is abusing your property, ignoring your rules, or just not paying you to live in your rental house, it’s natural to feel angry. It’s not always conducive to solving the problem—but it is natural.
And on the tenant’s side, an angry landlord can be a little scary. Unreasonable landlords lock tenants out of their homes, put their belonging on the curb, or cut off the utilities in order to prove a point. These actions might be illegal, but they do happen.
A better solution to diffusing anger in a business situation is mediation. Through mediation, a trained, neutral professional can help landlords and tenants resolve their differences. Whether the result is an agreement that works for both parties, or a compromise where each gives a little to the other, mediation can be an inexpensive and effective alternative to going through legal channels. In some areas, mediation can even be free of charge.
According to Mediate.com, there are 6 steps to formal mediation:
1. Introductory remarks: With both landlord and tenant present, the mediatior makes an opening statemtent outlining the role of each participant and neutrality of the mediator. The process and ground rules are defined.
2. Statement of the problem by the parties: The landlord and tenant each give their version of the story, uninterrupted.
3. Information gathering: The mediator askes open-ended questions to discover the emotions underneath the surface.
4. Identifying the problems: Common goals are brought out, in an effort to figure out which issues can be settled first.
5. Bargaining and generating options: The mediator puts a settlement on the table and the landlord and tenant take turns modifying it. Brainstorming sessions may help in discovering more solutions
6. Reaching an agreement. The landlord and tenant agree to the terms of the agreement.
In mediation, there are many paths to a final agreement. Mediation is a voluntary, non-binding process—so each participant has the option to walk away at any time. No one can force a participant to accept a solution. It’s private and completely confidential. But most important is that over 85% of all mediations result in a settlement.
Instead of heading to litigation next time you have a dispute with a tenant, perhaps you’ll consider mediation. It works!