How mediation works in an eviction case
Mediation can often be a good choice for landlords and tenants who disagree. The mediator is trained to look at how both sides see the case in order to help them come up with a solution they both like.
Mediation doesn't force you to agree
The mediator won't force you to reach an agreement. Whether you decide to agree, and how you agree, is up to you. If you can't agree, you can still go to court to have a judge or jury decide. If you reach an agreement, you can write up your agreement and you won't need to have a trial.
Mediation can happen right before your trial
Some courts have people available to help you mediate on your trial date. Before the trial starts, a mediator can help the parties agree about if and when the tenant will move out or pay the landlord money or if the landlord will make repairs to the home. This can protect the tenant from getting an eviction judgment on their record. Find out from your court's Self-Help Center if mediation is available at your court.
- It's less stressful than going to court
- It doesn't have to be at court
- It gives you time to come up with creative solutions
- You can discuss things that aren't directly named in the lawsuit
- It's private and confidential and the agreements you reach don't have to be public
- It creates agreements that people are more likely to follow than court orders
- It helps you preserve your relationship with the other side
Common agreements in mediation cases
Mediation agreements are custom-made for your situation. Here are some examples of the types of agreements landlords and tenants can make with the help of a mediator:
- The tenant can continue to live in their home but pay for costs related to their late rent payments (bank fees the landlord had to pay, for example)
- The tenant will move out on a certain date and leave the home in good condition
- The tenant will make back rent payments to the landlord over time
- The landlord will make repairs to the home
- The court won’t enter a final judgment against the tenant if they follow the agreement
- The eviction won’t show up on the tenant’s credit report
How to get ready for mediation
Getting ready for mediation is a lot like getting ready for a trial. You need to know the law that applies to your case. You'll need to organize your ideas, papers, photos, and other things that are important to prove your case.
Consider what you and the other side really want:
- For example, does the landlord really want the tenant to move out, or do they only need to feel sure the tenant is going to pay back their past due rent over time?
- Think about what angry or hurt feelings you or the other side have and why
- Come up with ideas that you and the other side might both agree to
Decide what things you would accept to not go to a trial. Going to trial might mean that you'd lose or you might have a hard time collecting money if you win. Talk with a lawyer who can give you advice about what a judge might decide.
If you agree in mediation
If the landlord hasn’t started an eviction court case yet, then you can both write up a clear agreement and make sure you each understand what to do. Make a copy so you both have one. Then do what you agreed to.
If the landlord has started an eviction court case, you should both write up a more formal agreement, called a Stipulation and Order to file with the court.
Make sure the agreement or Stipulation says:
- What each side is promising to do (like pay the back rent, fix something that’s broken, or move out)
- By what date each side has to do his or her part of the agreement
- By what date the landlord will dismiss the court case (if there is one) if the tenant follows the agreement
- If the tenant doesn’t do what they agreed to, the landlord can get an eviction judgment from the judge right away without another trial
- What the tenant can do if the landlord breaks the agreement
You can also use the Stipulation for Entry of Judgment-Unlawful Detainer (form UD-115) to write up your agreement. But, you can’t dismiss your case after you file a judgment. Get instructions for how to dismiss your eviction case.