The Department of Building and Housing provides a mediation service to landlords and tenants. This can be a good way to resolve disagreements. It’s important to be well prepared.
‘I’ve talked to a number of experienced mediators and private landlords,’ says Jeff Montgomery, Manager Client Services for the Department. ‘There is no doubt that mediation brings a higher chance of a satisfactory outcome than going through the Court process’.
‘The most important thing a landlord can do is ensure your calendar is clear so you can attend the mediation, and then prepare for it!’ says Jeff.
How and what to prepare depends on the nature of the issues to be resolved. For rent arrears, for example, you must make sure you have a current and accurate rent record, showing the arrears through to the date of the mediation. You also need to have a copy of the signed tenancy agreement. If you have claims for other matters, you need to have copies of the supporting documentation.
‘You also need to understand what mediation is about before you turn up,’ says Jeff. The Department has information sheets available from its website or call centre.
‘Perhaps the biggest challenge for people in mediation is managing their own behaviour,’ Jeff says. ‘Experienced landlords are more willing to listen to the other person’s point of view, and more willing to consider options for resolution because they understand the benefits.’
‘Remember mediation is a voluntary process, and you’re in it because you see the chance of a better outcome than if you simply proceed to a Tenancy Tribunal hearing.’
For further information, you can contact the Department of Building and Housing on 0800 TENANCY (0800 836 262), or go to their website at www.dbh.govt.nz.