Landlord and Tenant Rights and Responsibilities Article


Frequently Asked Questions about Mediation

What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary and confidential way for people to resolve their disagreements. During mediation, people meet at a safe and neutral place to discuss their options for effectively resolving their problem. One or two mediators guide the process to help keep communication respectful.

Why should I try mediation?

Mediation can be an effective first step in trying to resolve a conflict. It saves time, money, and energy that might otherwise be spent tangled in a frustrating legal process. In mediation, people in conflict decide for themselves the solution that is right for them. Mediation helps people clear the air so they can preserve their relationship, which otherwise might be damaged if they went to court.

What situations can be mediated?

  • Neighbor issues: property-line disputes, animal noise, shared walls, trees
  • Landlord/tenant problems: money owed, payment plans, deposits, refunds, back rent
  • Family conflicts: decision making about care of aging parents or other family members, communicating with teens
  • Real estate disputes: earnest money, non-disclosure of damage
  • Small claims: property damage, money owed
  • Business issues: partner disagreements, client complaints
  • Employee conflicts: office issues, coworkers who don’t get along
  • Personal injury claims: auto accidents, premises liability
  • Domestic relations: divorce and child custody
  • Group decision making: neighborhood associations, community organizations, schools, clubs, boards of directors

What does a typical mediation look like?

Participants meet with one or two mediators, who explain the process and ask them to agree to some guidelines for respectful communication. Each participant will have an opportunity to share his or her side of the story, what the participant wants, and what he or she is willing to do to help solve the problem. The mediator(s) will listen and ask questions, making sure that the participants are clearly hearing and understanding each other. If the participants reach an agreement, the mediator(s) will help ensure that it is fair and specific.

Who are the mediators?

Mediators are a diverse group trained to be unbiased and neutral. They help people communicate effectively but do not take sides or review evidence.

Is mediation legally binding?

Participants create a written agreement and each receives a copy. Some agreements reached in mediations involving money, personal injury claims, business disputes, domestic relations, or real estate can be legally binding. Mediation agreements reached in other less formal disputes (such as animal noise complaints) may not be enforcible in court. Nonetheless, statics show that most of these informal agreements  remain in force long after they were entered into by the participants. 

How long does a mediation take?

Most mediations sessions are scheduled for two to four hours.

Who/what should I bring to the mediation?

Participants bring only themselves, though they may bring a spouse or partner who is affected by the problem as well. You may bring information such as logs or photos that you can use to help the other participant understand your point of view. Other people who might be helpful to the mediation may attend, but only with prior approval of both participants. Attorneys sometimes attend mediations arising from formal disputes. Where the disputes is more informal the participants normally represent themselves.

How much does a mediation cost?

It depends on the organization doing the mediation and the type of dispute between the parties. Private mediators generally charge an hourly fee. Mediation services offered through the court system or a community mediation service are often available for free or at a nominal charge.

I’m having a conflict with someone in another state. Can mediation be done via phone?

Yes, mediation services often can be provided via conference call or web-based video conferencing platforms.

Will the mediator discuss my case with anyone else (attorneys, law enforcement, case workers, etc.)?

The entire mediation process is protected by law as confidential. Except for unusual circumstances such as actual or threatened violence during the mediation, or evidence of abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult, mediators are prohibited by law from discussing your case with anyone without your permission. Mediators and their case files may not be subpoenaed without a court order. 


Contributing Attorney: Dan Westerburg is one of many volunteer mediators at The Center for Community Dialogue a program of Our Family Services in Tucson.


Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • i moved out from a house that i was renting from a company,they say they sent me my security deposit refund check but i never received anything and someone stole it and cashed it.Went to the bank were the check was cashed and they told me the company has to dispute the check not me.Can i request another check from my landlord or i have to wait until the investigation is over?
  • We haven't had any noticable hot water for almost 3 months and all the landlord says is he's working on it. Cant afford to move. Do I have to pay rent in may if not fixed
  • In April of this year My landlord and I made a verbal agreement on renewing my lease, my lease ends July 31st. On July 2nd I gave him a call to ask when I can resign the lease we had verbally agreed to. He then tells me he rented out the apartment that I am living in and can no longer live in that apartment. However, he did offer another apartment $200 more than what I'm paying right now. Also note, I have had several problems with him trying to tow my truck by saying I was taking two parking spots which in reality I wasn't and I took a picture of it. What do I do in this situation.
  • We signed a year lease on a house that we discovered upon move-in smells strongly of animal urine. There has been an initial deep cleaning, which has not solved the problem. I believe it is not repairable. We were told we could leave without breaking the lease. If the property management company does not honor that verbal contract, what information is available as a back up?
  • We have been without hot water for 1 week and 4 days and no gas for cooking for over 4months. when contacting the landlord I am told gas is a hoa issue and all townhouse owners are arguing over whose responsible to fixing the broken gas line. When asking about hot water and have called them 3 times last week and also texted a few times and told on phone the will look into it and call me back and so far nothing. Text messages go unanswered and this is how the landlord wants to communicate with us. what are my rights as a tenant. This is all included in my rent..
  • How long does my landlord have to fix my air conditioning?
  • What happens if damage to the property is greater than 1/2 months rent or greater than $300 and the landlord wont fix the issue caused by weather?
  • is tree trimming that requires a professional trimmer considered landscaping for a renter in an hoa community? I paid $300.00 that I couldn't afford.
  • the apt complex provides heating and cooling. my avg apt temp is over 80 degrees they refuse to turn the hon until the weather changes what are my rights I cannot cook and its becoming unbearable the temps outside are 70/80 highs and high 40/ 50
  • I've been renting from the same landlord for three years and suddenly he foreclosed. Is it possible for his name not to show anywhere on the foreclosure papers?

STORIES

  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .
  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .

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