Propertymark has thrown its weight behind an idea from Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to create a mediation service to arbitrate in disputes between tenants and landlords.
The concept of mediation – to be tested out in a pilot project next month – came up in the government announcement of an extension of the bailiff-enforced eviction ban.
Details are light at the moment but a statement from Jenrick’s Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government says: “A new mediation pilot will further support landlords and renters who face court procedures and potential eviction from next month.
“It will offer mediation as part of the possession process to try and help landlords and tenants to reach a mutual agreement and keep people in their homes.
“Helping to resolve disputes through mediation will enable courts to prioritise urgent cases, supporting landlords and tenants to resolve issues quickly without the need for a formal hearing. The mediation pilot will work within the existing court arrangements in England and Wales.”
In addition to announcing the pilot, the MHCLG extended the existing bailiff-enforced eviction ban until February 21, on which date a further review will be made.
Propertymark’s chief policy adviser Mark Hayward says: “In light of the recent lockdown, it is no surprise the UK government has made [the] announcement.”
“Yet over the past few weeks the UK government has held off updates about evictions to the sector making it impossible for agents to respond and plan for the difficult winter months ahead” he continues.
“The whole of the private rented sector has been impacted as a result of Covid-19 but we must recognise that the courts already faced a backlog of cases prior to the pandemic.
“Although the new mediation pilot will help it is important to take steps back towards normality so that both landlords and tenants have access to the justice system, while putting measures in place to offer further support to tenants who have built up Covid-related arrears through no fault of their own.”
This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.