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

  • As a tenant am I able to send the owner a bill for time spent at the property assisting with maintenance and work done to repair numerous deferred maintenance issues? I calculated at least 55 hours whereby I was expected to be at the property when workers repaired faucets and broken pipes and the need to tear up and replace kitchen tiles, and more. I had to take time out from my work to help the owner fix her property - how can that be correct?
  • Our rental home has a termite infestation and it's been over a month and our landlord has done nothing about it. What rights do we have? I've been told by our property management company that termites do not qualify under any law to terminate our lease. Are we stuck living in this house?
  • Who is responsible for broken waterfaucet
  • Our building is pretty old and the plumbing here is always giving everyone problems. Usually the owner fixes it and that's that. Well this time, the toilet is plugged up and it's the 3rd time. It wasn't fixed right the first time or the second time. Because I have been having problems with it ever since. Including right after they supposedly fixed it the first time. So this time (3rd time) the landlord (not the owner) says I have to pay her husband to fix it. I have a 14 yo son n a 17 yo daughter as well as myself who is disabled n our room mate who islike 63 yo. Do I have to pay?
  • I am being evicted under section 33-1368a unauthorized guest.a friend of mine came by to say hi and to get a cold drink. As my friend was arriving my landlord and my friend had words with each other one calling the other a racist for commenting on baggy clothes. I was served with a written 13-3368a notice and was told he couldn't come back. About 3weeks later my friend showed up again I told him he wasn't allowed on the property gave him some water and he left. The next day I was served with a second 33-1368a notice with 10 days to vacate the property. Is this legal and what should I do?
  • I am renting a house with my family of 4. Our landlord is selling the house, and they told us they are going to put a lockbox on the house for showings. 1. Do we have a right to reject this for safety? 2. We need to provide "reasonable" access. How many showings a week would be reasonable? We want to tell them we will only allow X amount of showings per week. What would this number roughly be?
  • So my apartment doesn't have heat and I have a little baby. This morning it was cold so I decided to turn on the heat and then I noticed there isn't any heat. Talked to thr neighbors and they said none of the apartments did. Is it the apartments responsibility to have a heater in the apartment? It's getting colder and I worry about my baby.
  • Does a landlord or the designated property manager have a certain time to respond to repairs?
  • We signed a 4 month lease at an RV Storage facility to rent a 60' space for our 20' trailer, because we were told only 60' spaces were available. After parking the trailer in the assigned space we discovered it is not 60' but 40', which rents for $75 per month. The facility continues to insist it's a 60' space, refuses to measure it & refuses to change our rental rate to $75. They only offer to move us to "another" 60' space as a solution. Is it legal for them to overcharge us like this? What recourse do we have? We suspect they're doing this to others. Isn't this fraud? What rights do we have
  • We turned in the emergency form ARS 33-1361 for our landlord to repair leaks and mold that is growing from these leaks. Once the 5 days are up and no repairs have been made, what are the steps to take afterwards?

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