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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

New Housing Mediation Service in demand during Covid-19 crisis

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín is pictured with Housing Mediator Faith Westwood and Mediation Manager Laura Coulter

The Housing Mediation Service operated by local charity Housing Rights and funded by the Department for Communities, offers tenants and landlords in the private rented sector a new way of finding agreements that are sustainable and satisfactory for both parties.

Since its launch in November 2019 the pilot service has worked with parties to resolve issues around repairs, anti-social behaviour, arrears, and evictions.  It is available to all private rented sector tenants and landlords (who are registered with the departments Landlord’s Registration Scheme). It aims to offer an accessible, effective, and proportionate means of resolving a dispute and avoid, where possible, going to court. 

Following a meeting with Housing Rights, Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín urged tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to avail of the Housing Mediation Service as a route to resolving disputes.  The Minister said:

“The private rented sector has grown significantly and is now home to more tenants than the social sector, housing many who are vulnerable and on low incomes.  This pilot mediation service is playing a vital role in helping many tenants and landlords come to agreements on a range of issues, avoiding the need to go to court, preventing evictions and sustaining tenancies."

“I would like to thank Housing Rights for their work in this very important area.  The pilot scheme will run for 2 years and my department will draw on the experience of the service users to develop future services for landlords and tenants.”

Laura Coulter, the Housing Mediation Manager at Housing Rights said:

“The service has really come into its own over the past two months, when in a time of financial uncertainty and worry we have been able to help many private tenants and landlords deal sympathetically with each other to ensure lost income won’t result in a lost home.  When both parties agree to participate in mediation an independent mediator with specialist housing knowledge helps the parties talk about the dispute and arrive at a solution which works for all.”

 

Free to both landlords and tenants to help them solve their private rented disputes, avoiding the need to go to court. When both parties agree to take part in the mediation, an independent mediator with specialist housing knowledge will help the parties talk about their dispute and come to a solution that works for everyone.

Working with the pilot advisory panel, Housing Rights and the Department for Communities will draw on the experience of users to shape future specialist advice services for tenants and landlords.

Landlords and tenants who feel that they would benefit from this service can apply online at www.housingrights.org.uk,  call Housing Rights on 028 9024 5640 and pick option 6 or email mediation@housingrights.org.uk

During the meeting, the Minister also took the opportunity to thank all staff throughout the organisation for their crucial role in providing advice throughout Covid-19 across all tenures.

The Minister said:

The expert, independent advice Housing Rights offers is invaluable and available all year round, but it has certainly provided a lifeline to many throughout this crisis.  I thank everyone for their dedication and professionalism in supporting many in our community.” 

Tagged In

Coronavirus, Private Tenancies