The ACT government announced an investment in a landlords and tenants conflict resolution service, designed to help resolve disputes between landlords and tenants who are struggling to meet their rent repayments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Canberra Conflict Resolution Service

The pandemic has forced landlords and tenants to share the economic burden and, according to Attorney-General, Gordon Ramsay, the aim of the new landlords and tenants conflict resolution service is to provide support to both parties. The service provides “restorative, impartial support to both landlords and tenants to deal with the difficult issues Covid-19 has caused for our community. 

“Conversations about money or about a person’s home or their long-term investments are not always easy. That is why we have moved quickly to secure funding for a mediation service for tenants and landlords to help support these difficult discussions and facilitate good outcomes,” Mr Ramsay said. 

The Canberra-based organisation, Conflict Resolution Service, has been named the preferred provider of the dispute resolution service. The not-for-profit organisation has a panel of qualified mediators and more than 30 years experience, acting as mediator between family and community disputes, as well as workplace consultation, and crisis mediation to prevent homelessness. 

The Covid-19 pandemic response

The ACT government’s response to the pandemic included a moratorium on rent increases and evictions for tenants who were able to prove they had suffered a loss of income due to Covid-19. Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, also announced land tax and residential rate rebates to landlords who reduced rents for their tenants by at least 25 per cent for six months.

In response to these measures, Tenants Union ACT, stated an “inherent imbalance” between landlords and tenants in a submission to the government’s Select Committee. According to the union, mediation will be difficult for a tenant with nothing to offer in a negotiation. “In addition, many renters do not assert their rights generally, most often out of fear of reprisal (usually being told to leave the property) and the risk of an unfavourable reference or recommendation.”

The ACT government will work with Conflict Resolution Service and make a further announcement once the landlords and tenants conflict resolution service is available to the public. Visit the Conflict Resolution Service’s website for more information on their mediation services.