The ACT Government has announced it will invest in a mediation service to support landlords and tenants to resolve tenancy disputes arising due to COVID-19.
Conflict Resolution Service has been identified as the preferred provider of the service and following final negotiations, they will begin providing this important service for the community soon.
The shutdown has created challenges for tenants who have suffered a loss of income and are subsequently struggling to make their rent payments.
To help ease the situation, the ACT Government introduced measures aimed at protecting renters including a pause on evictions and an offer to landlords who reduce the rents of tenants by at least 25 per cent for six months to receive land tax rebates.
The measures apply to tenants who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 and tenants are required to approach their landlord to ask for the reduction. The mediation service will help with matters where the parties have not come to an agreement.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said that the ACT Government has encouraged landlords and tenants to share the economic burden that has resulted from COVID-19.
“Conversations about money or about a person’s home or their long-term investments are not always easy,” Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said.
“That is why we have moved quickly to secure funding for a mediation service for tenants and landlords to help support these difficult discussions and facilitate good outcomes.”
Conflict Resolution Service Chief Executive Officer, Mel Haley says the mediation service will provide an opportunity for tenants to have a conversation with their landlords, that they may have been avoiding or worried to start. Either the tenant or the landlord will be able to instigate the mediation process.
“We will operate as a neutral party and work towards a written agreement that suits everyone. There are a range of options available to make a payment arrangement that everyone can live with.
“We begin the mediation process by working out what people need rather than what they want. Our qualified mediators will assist with negotiations in a fair manner, identify the disputed issues, develop options, consider alternatives and endeavour to reach an agreement. Mediation doesn’t have to be face to face, we can do it via teleconference, there are options.”
“As a community-based organisation and not a corporate provider, we were able to provide a cost-effective, tailored approach for the ACT government. We are in the process of preparing fact sheets so that both tenants and landlords can come to mediation prepared, helping to ensure the mediation process is not unnecessarily drawn out.”
“Conflict Resolution Service is a long-standing, trusted provider of mediation services in our community and has a panel of qualified mediators that they can draw upon,” Attorney-General Ramsay said.
“I am confident that they can provide restorative, impartial support to both landlords and tenants to deal with the difficult issues COVID-19 has caused for our community.”
The ACT Government will work with the Conflict Resolution Service to get this up and running as soon as possible and further announcements will be made once the mediation service is operational.