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

  • My AC is not been working properly for eight days now I have been very calm very patient I went down there in tears this morning with my four-month-old baby and beg them to fix it today I came home with yet another note saying that it’s blowing at 52° yet me and my four-month-old are sweating what can I do from this point going forward I cannot continue to live this way we are very uncomfortable and my rent has been paid in full for months
  • Landlord refuses to make repairs in the house we are renting. We are withholding rent. Today there's a notice on our door, that he's going to shut off the electricity. He refuse to move us to another unit and said if we can make repairs but he won't deduct the cost. He want us to pay for the repair on top of the rent. This sounds so illegal. Can you help us ??
  • I fulfilled my lease and I am month to month. Do the same rules apply now that my lease is up?
  • I just signed a lease and took possession of a property I'm renting. When I did the walk through I found that the house only had 2 screens on the windows. I called to tell the broker and was informed that window screens were not included. The house is also missing cupboard knobs, smoke detectors are broken and other issues. I came into this deal in good faith, but I am very afraid that I am dealing with a slum lord. What can I do?
  • My lease states that 2 adults are allowed to leave in the premises. I had a friend stay with me and my landlord forced me to kicked them out. He said that having somebody else stay with me without his approval meant I broke the lease and he could evict me. I have always paid rent on time and he is enforcing rules with me that he is not enforcing with the other tenants. I can't afford a lawyer and I fell harassed. What are my options?
  • Can a landlord lawfully send you a 30 day notice to vacate in a form of a text message instead of a written notice as called for in the lease agreement? is this legal?
  • 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?
  • For the past 2 months, Apartments have been having hot water issues. Month of October had no hot water for 2 to 3 days and now in November about 4 days. Hot water has been off on the morning of 11/20/2019 and suppose to be back on afternoon of 11/21/2019. Wondering if there is recourse or a credit on my rent for the month. Pay 735 a month to live there.
  • The downstairs neighbor keeps complaining to us & the office that we are making loud noises at night. We continually tell them its not us. We told the complaining neighbor to call the police or on-site security next time so there will be an 3rd party witness. She didn’t. She came up and complained to us again and we told her everyone but 1 person was sleeping and to call the on-site security. She went to the office and complained. Each time she complains they call/contact us as if we are guilty even though we aren’t. At what point does it become harassment by both accusing parties?
  • I am plaintiff in a civil claim; lndlrd did not return sec deposit OR an itemized list of damages w/in 14 days; she claims over 8K in damages which I did not do.She claims she mailed the itemized list. I NEVER REC'D it; I filed in small claims; she ignored 4 attempts by the constable to be served. I motioned to serve, and constable served her. In her small claims answer she includes a letter w/ a date (w/in the 14 days), but it was apparently mailed by first class mail. I DID'T receive this. How do I ask to enter premises to see if item was replaced.I am in discovery process now. Thank you.

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