Mediation is now available for residential landlords and tenants impacted by COVID-19. The service was announced by the ACT Government last week and was made available from Monday 11 May.
The Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) is now providing the free service, which can be used for tenants and landlords to come to a temporary agreement with regards to residential tenancies during the virus crisis.
“The CRS will work with parties to resolve their disputes through a facilitated discussion, negotiate options and work to agree on a path forward,” said ACT Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay.
“Parties who are interested in resolving their residential tenancy disputes related to COVID-19 impacts, including negotiating a rent reduction, can contact CRS for support and assistance.”
The CEO of CRS, Melissa Haley, said the organisation is committed to providing Canberrans with alternate methods to resolve disputes.
“We are continuing to provide crucial services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic which will now include facilitated mediations between landlords and tenants,” Ms Haley said.
The ACT Greens have welcomed the service, with housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur labelling the move a “huge win” for Canberra renters.
“The Prime Minister recently called on renters struggling during this pandemic to just ‘work it out’ with their landlords. But there is often already a power imbalance between tenants and landlords that, for some, will only be exacerbated during this crisis. This is clearly understood, as the Government provided a similar mediation service for commercial tenancies many weeks ago,” she said.
The ACT had previously introduced some rental relief measures, including financial incentives for landlords to reduce rents and a moratorium on evictions, as well as moving to ensure tenants cannot be “blacklisted” for failing to make rental payments during the pandemic.