Small claims and eviction courts are overburdened and underfunded. Meanwhile, 88-92% of all cases resolve before trial. Many of these resolutions occur just before trial in the courtroom hallway before anyone has seen a judge. When this happens, landlords find themselves wondering why the outcome wasn’t reached sooner.
This is the job of a professional mediator: to find that resolution from the courtroom hallway—before all the time and money is wasted filing a lawsuit, preparing for trial, and showing up at the courthouse.
Mediation is a voluntary process in which people hire a neutral professional, the mediator, to facilitate a mutually beneficial, legally-binding resolution to their dispute. Attorneys can be involved but aren’t necessary.
Put plainly, it’s a negotiation between you and your tenant with the assistance of a professional negotiator. You control almost every decision along the way: one-on-one conversations or everyone discussing at once; a single sitting or over a period of time (i.e., “synchronous” v. “asynchronous”); in-person or by video chat/phone/email; and you craft your own resolution. You know what your interests are, so you are in control.
Potentially the biggest benefit of mediation, compared to court, is that all risk of losing at trial is eliminated. Every party, in every court case, has a chance of losing—no matter what the facts are (or how sure the attorney is in the case). The problem is, unlike high-dollar cases, trials for landlord-tenant cases last about twenty minutes. And the outcome is truly at the judge’s discretion, which very well could hinge on the current mood of the particular judge.