A National Resource to Support Excellence in Community Action
Last Revised: Aug 14, 2008 - Initial Posting: Aug 28, 2004
Purpose

Utah Community Action coordinates the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program to help parties involved in eviction proceedings in settling their dispute cooperatively prior to appearing before a judge.

Description

Utah Community Action (formerly Salt Lake City Community Action Program) established the Landlord Mediation Program as part of the agency’s Homelessness Prevention Services - program flyer.  The program is a collaborative effort with the Court Administrative Office.  The Utah Courts also provides specific information on the rights, responsibilities and courses of action available for both landlords and tenants.Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program Brochure

An informational brochure is used to describe the mediation process to prospective clients, landlords, attorneys and others.  The advantages of mediation include:

  • It is informal and confidential
  • The final agreement isn’t imposed upon the disputants; instead they design it according to their own interests
  • Mediation is cooperative.  There is no winner and no loser.  Since both parties design the solution, they have the potential to preserve their relationship when the process is over.  In landlord-tenant cases, sometimes evictions may be stayed.

Types of cases that can be mediated include:

  • Tenant vs. Tenant Issues
    • Noise/Disturbance
    • Animals
    • Property
    • Relations
  • Landlord & Tenant Disputes
    • Security Deposits
    • Rent
    • Repairs & Maintenance
    • Damage
    • Pets

Pre-Filed Mediation and Intervention takes place prior to any legal action.  These include notice of first intent to evict, violation, or non-compliant issues raised by the landlord or management.  These may also involve complaints from tenants on uninhabitable housing conditions, failure of the landlord to make timely repairs, health and safety violations, failure to return deposits, etc.  These cases are handled by CAP's Coordinator, who is a skilled mediator or by another professional mediator as a phone intervention or a face to face mediation.

Once a resolution is reached, CAP's coordinator documents the terms of the cooperative agreement, which may include additional time to relocate or a corrective action by the landlord or tenant to continue the terms of the rental agreement or repayment agreement time frame and amounts.  Intervention services may also include training on rights and responsibilities of both landlord/tenant, resource information, court process review, the eviction process and timelines.

Mediation may be used if either party requests mediation and the other party agrees, as well as in cases where the judge makes a referral for mediation based on his/her belief that the process will produce a better outcome for the litigants than litigation.  SLCAP recruits volunteer mediators to provide free services for interested landlords and tenants.  Attorneys may also assist in the mediation session and their presence is encouraged.

Participation is voluntary and withdrawal from the mediation process is allowable at any time.  If a negotiated agreement is not reached, the parties return to court for a hearing.

When a settlement is reached through mediation, the mediator prepares a Mediated Settlement Agreement outlining the terms and conditions that the landlord and tenant have successfully negotiated.  If the matter is before the court, the terms of the agreement will be forwarded to the court and turned into a court order.  A Mediation Outcome Log is completed to document the results of each case.

The Administrative Office of the Courts contributes to the Landlord Tenant Mediation Program for:

  • One (1) volunteer mediator at the courthouse for 1 or 2 times per week for two hours ($125 per hour)
  • Use of conference rooms to conduct mediation sessions ($40 per mediation)
  • Printing of all brochures, written materials, design and layout costs ($500)
  • Ten hours per month to work on program development, mediator training/supervision and direct mediation/facilitation practice by ADR Director (120 hours per year = $3,720)
  • Parking validations for volunteer mediators (15/week @ $1 each)
  • New mediator training and in-service training for existing mediators ($500)
  • UCCR membership fee for Program Coordinator ($125)

SLCAP also provides training on tenant rights and responsibilities to help families maintain stable housing.  Utah Legal Services has posted guidance that can help both tenants and landlords meet their responsibilities and maintain a good working relationship.

SLCAP also provides counseling assistance through the Tenant Home Maintenance Project to low-income families who are at risk of eviction because they lack basic home maintenances skills such as cleaning and upkeep of the rental unit.  The counselor will spend at least two one-hour sessions discussing:

  • Budgeting and money management
  • Housing consumer education and training
  • Tenant rights and responsibilities
Outcomes

Seventeen (17) professional mediators donate their time to the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Program.

SLCAP reports the following outcomes:

  • Involvement with approximately 420 Pre-Filed Mediations and Interventions each year
  • 80 Mediations were conducted in FY'08
    • 92% successful mediations
    • 56% in stayed evictions
    • 34% settlement agreements
    • 10% no agreements
Contact

Michelle Robison, Director - Landlord/Tenant Mediator
801.214.3109