Guidance update for Rental Mediation Service

The UK Government has updated its guidance on the Rental Mediation Service for landlords and tenants undergoing possession proceedings. The service is available to tenants and landlords in both the private and social rented sectors across courts in England and Wales.

In February, the UK Government launched a free mediation pilot to support landlords and tenants to resolve disputes before a formal court hearing takes place. The pilot is part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s work with the Ministry of Justice on new court arrangements to support all parties in response to the pandemic. It has been scheduled to last for six months.

Guidance was first published in April, but at the end of May, the UK Government updated details about the scheme. The information focusses on five areas:

  • About the service
  • When mediation is offered
  • How mediation works
  • Get the most from mediation
  • What happens next

Letting agents have worked hard to support landlords and tenants and manage tenancies safely throughout the public health crisis. Consequently, when landlords and tenants are involved in a housing possession court case, it is important that they are able to identify issues and have the additional resources necessary to help resolve them, for this reason, we recognise the role that mediation can play in dispute resolution. However, it is essential that we see the results of the pilot and outcomes of reviews to determine whether it can take the pressure off the court system and be a viable option for the private rented sector in the long run, especially with the court backlog caused by the crisis.

Timothy Douglas Policy and Campaigns Manager | Propertymark

The mediation pilot is free to use for landlords and tenants involved in a housing possession court case and can help to resolve cases without the need for a face-to-face court hearing.

As part of a housing possession case, cases will be listed by the court for review. This is before any substantive court hearing. When tenants attend their review appointment, they will have access to free legal advice from the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS).

If the duty solicitor believes that the case would benefit from mediation, they will recommend this to the tenant and landlord. If both parties agree, the case will be referred to the Society of Mediators. A mediator will then in get touch to arrange a suitable time for the mediation to take place.

If an agreement is reached during mediation, the case will not require a substantive hearing and the outcome will be confirmed to the court. If an agreement is not reached, then the substantive hearing will take place as planned.

Understanding the possession action process: guidance for landlords and tenants  →

Find out more on the Government website