Possible new rules for landlords and tenants mean you may need to do this before going to Court
COVID-19 has changed the world in which we operate. The lockdown has had a severe impact on the economy with millions on furlough and the threat of unemployment and recession looming.
The concerns about the impact of all of this on renters led the Government to call a halt on eviction hearings until August. In the meantime, it is clear that there has been an increase in rent arrears in the PRS with fears that recession could lead to a huge rise in tenant debt. At the same time, the Courts are struggling to cope with the backlog of cases that is building.
In response to the potential influx of cases and uncertain financial position many tenants face, the Government has indicated it is working with the Master of the Rolls to widen the ‘pre-action protocol’ on possession proceedings, to include private renters. This will support the necessary engagement between landlords and tenants to resolve disputes and landlords will have to reach out to tenants to understand the financial position they are in.
What is a ‘pre-action protocol’?
Pre-action protocols explain the steps and conduct the Court would normally expect parties to take before commencing proceedings. The point of them is to ensure certain steps are taken by the parties to a claim before going to Court so that as many problems as possible are dealt with beforehand (and hopefully avoid going to Court all together). Even if the parties still need to go to Court after taking the appropriate steps, substantial Court time and money is saved by following the protocol. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is regarded a fundamental step by the Courts in complying with pre-action protocols.
What are some examples of ADR?
There are a few, these include:
· Mediation (a third party facilitating a resolution)
· Arbitration (a third party deciding the dispute)
· Early neutral evaluation (a third party giving an informed opinion on the dispute)
· Ombudsman schemes (which deal with complaints from ordinary citizens and consumers about most public bodies and some services in the private sector)
Good arrears management
At a fundamental level, the pre-action protocol is just about good arrears management:
· Communicate with tenants
· Try to help them come up with a repayment plan
· Point them in the right direction for financial help
· Consider taking part in a form of ADR such as mediation
This is where TDS Resolution comes in, we are an independent body offering a low-cost mediation style service where landlords and tenants are encouraged to agree a suitable rent arrears repayment plan. Often, involving a third party in this way can “unlock” tricky problems the parties are facing. The Dispute Service (TDS) has been doing this for years in relation to deposits disputes, we are skilled at talking issues through with landlords and tenants.
To find out more please visit www.tdsresolution.com or get started now using our interactive form below.