Social welfare and housing

Housing mediation pilot

The pilot scheme

In February 2021, the government launched a housing mediation pilot scheme to reduce the backlog of possession cases that built up during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The pilot scheme aims to bring tenants and landlords together to resolve issues out of court.

Tenants are referred to the mediation scheme by duty advisers on their review day if the following conditions apply:

  • agreement is not reached at review
  • both parties consent to mediation
  • the duty advisers consider the case suitable for mediation

Mediation will take place between the review day and the substantive hearing. If an agreement is not reached, the case will continue to the substantive hearing.

The mediation service is free and being used in all courts across England and Wales.

The scheme is being run by the Society of Mediators, with support from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The scheme has been scheduled to last for approximately six months, at which point it will be evaluated.

Our view

While we agree that mediation has a place in dispute resolution, we do not consider that it should replace or impede on proper justice.

Housing law is a complex and nuanced area and advice should be provided by legal experts.

We’re concerned that the pilot could impact on the sustainability of legal aid, particularly the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS), which provides advice and advocacy to all tenants on the day of their possession hearing.

The £3 million allocated to the mediation scheme pilot would be more usefully channelled into HPCDS and early legal advice.

We also believe that a full and independent evaluation of the pilot scheme should be carried out.

What’s changing

April 2021 – MHCLG publishes guidance on the mediation service

February 2021 – we greeted the launch of the pilot with caution, warning that the housing mediation pilot must not replace the usual routes to access justice