Mediation helps landlords, agents and tenants solve problems during a tenancy | Ome

March 18, 2022
Deposit replacement scheme: Everything agents need to know

Most tenancies end amicably, with the tenant handing back the keys and agreeing with the landlord or agent on any costs that need to be met. But a percentage end up in dispute over how the property has been left.

Since its launch in March 2020, Ome has been providing landlords with the same level of security as a traditional deposit, without the admin or legal requirements that come along with it, while relieving tenants of the need to worry about scraping together a deposit. Instead, tenants pay a monthly subscription and Ome offers five weeks’ rent value against damage or unpaid bills – the same as a cash deposit.

But what about problems during the tenancy?

Some problems can’t wait until the end of a tenancy for a claim to be made against a deposit (or its alternative).  With the Property Redress Scheme tenancy mediation service, part of the Hamilton Fraser Group, they don’t need to. In this guest article Mike Morgan, Legal Division Manager at the Property Redress Scheme tenancy mediation service, explains. 

Mediation is an interactive way of sorting out disputes between landlords and tenants, with the help of a professional third person (an independent mediator) who won't take sides. Agents need to be aware of the service too – in some cases, agents instruct the scheme and act on behalf of their landlord customer. In others, agents signpost their landlords to the scheme to instruct the scheme direct.

The independent mediator helps both parties to work towards a negotiated settlement, if one is possible. It is a flexible and voluntary method of dispute resolution that is completely confidential. The mediator will set out alternative solutions to help the parties to reach agreement. It can be a quick way to solve a dispute, and the average time to reach a resolution using this method is around 10 working days.  

Here are some case studies showing how mediation has been able to help with problems during the course of a tenancy.

Rising rent arrears

Alison’s tenant was getting increasingly behind on his rent and the situation was getting worse. She could have started eviction proceedings and chased the rent arrears through the courts – but this can often lead to landlords writing off the rent arrears as they become desperate to get their property back to remarket or sell. Instead, she informed her tenant of her intention to involve the Property Redress Scheme tenancy mediation service to come to a solution.  

The tenant had stopped answering emails and calls. Sometimes this is to be expected because the tenant feels that we are on the landlord’s side, as they are the ones who instructed us. But the truth is, we work with all parties because the landlord can only get their rent arrears back if the arrangement works for the tenant too. 

Thanks to our persistence and understanding the tenant realised this and opened up about his personal and financial difficulties before agreeing to a plan that he could afford. This was all achieved without Alison losing a good rapport with a decent tenant. The arrears were paid off in three months and Alison still has a paying tenant in her property. 

A change of circumstances

Graham’s tenant had contacted him following the loss of his job.  He recognised that staying in the property was not realistic without sufficient income to pay both his rent and his arrears, and had some options for moving out quickly. Of course, a tenant in the property paying no rent was doing Graham no favours – but he was understandably reluctant to write off the arrears.

We were able to get hold of the tenant, who agreed to take part in mediation. The tenant explained that he’d been able to find a new job but was still afraid that with arrears he could not afford, his days were numbered.

We were able to agree a payment plan that Graham and his tenant were both happy with. The tenant would agree to leave the property now and pay half of the arrears over the next three months. While this left Graham with some unpaid rent, Graham recognised that this was a small price to pay compared to the time and cost of court proceedings.

Time to say goodbye

In our last case study, a landlord with an HMO was facing complaints about a tenant who liked to play loud music when they got home. Other tenants had approached them, but they couldn’t see the problem and thought the other tenants were equally noisy in other ways.

We approached the tenant and found out more about them.  They worked in a noisy factory and, to them, their music was not that loud and helped them to wind down after a long shift. We were able to explain to them that rock music in a factory was different to rock music at home, when neighbours living in a close environment are more easily affected.  

We explained to the tenant that we were not there to tell them that they couldn’t play their music, but that they needed to keep the volume down, or else think about a more suitable living arrangement. The tenant agreed that it was probably time to find a more solitary place to live, and agreed with the landlord to leave the property at the end of the month.

Why you should use mediation

·        Its not just for landlords – it can help agents keep otherwise good tenants and gives you an additional tool when dealing with difficult tenants

·        It’s quick – we typically reach an agreement in 10 to 15 working days

·        It works– tenants work with us once they realise we’re not just on the landlord’s side

·        It saves you time, money and stress – we find fast practical solutions without incurring expensive court proceedings

Call 0203 907 1857 to find out more or start your mediation