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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Housing Rights Mediation Service is expanding

Housing Rights Mediation Service for private renters and landlords has continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has helped private rented sector landlords and tenants resolve some of the difficult disputes that have arisen as a consequence of this unprecedented situation. 

Housing Rights is piloting Northern Ireland’s first housing mediation service for the private rented sector. Five sessional mediators have been appointed as part of this pilot service. We are delighted to welcome some of Northern Ireland's most experienced mediators with a collective wealth of experience in many areas of dispute resolution. Our sessional mediators are receiving training on the private rental sector in Northern Ireland and will combine their expertise in mediation with in-depth housing knowledge.

Continuing to mediate affordability disputes triggered by COVID-19

We can assist in a multitude of common disputes between tenants and landlords. Of late, we continue to experience an increase in tenancy problems as a result of COVID-19. Fluctuating incomes and changes to eviction procedures have led to difficulties for both tenants and landlords, with many struggling to find a way through. Mediation has proved to be a helpful way of managing these situations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students who have lost income from part time, casual employment have been particularly impacted by the pandemic. Some students are starting off a new term already burdened with arrears and deposit issues caused when lockdown abruptly interrupted the last academic year. A combination of rules which prevent students accessing social security benefits and the collapse of the gig-economy left many students, particulartly those from poorer backgrounds, with no way to afford rental costs but with an ongoing legal liability to pay rent. Many landlords who cater to student tenants have experienced a significant loss of rental income during the pandemic and face a less certain future with some students preferring to remain home for the coming academic term.

How can mediation help?

Mediation is a process where an independent and neutral person helps people in dispute to work together find an agreement that works for both. The Housing Rights Mediation Service aims to assist tenants and landlords to come to a shared understanding of their differences so that they can resolve issues. One of our expert mediators can assist tenants and landlords in reaching agreement. 

Contact the mediation service by calling 028 9024 5640 and choosing option 6 or by submitting your details online.

The mediation service is funded by the Department for Communities and will provide an alternative way to resolve disputes in the sector.

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This article was written on 14 September 2020. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.