So, you’ve got your infrastructure in place to deal with disputes and conflicts, you’ve got expert third party mediators on hand to resolve situations before they progress too far, but it’s a different challenge trying to persuade some tenants to agree to mediation.
There’s a lot of housing associations in the same boat as you.
One of the biggest hurdles in referring a mediation case is getting tenants to agree. So how do you get tenants to agree to mediation?
“You need to sort it, you’re my landlord.”
“I don’t want to meet with my neighbour.”
“I’ve done nothing wrong so why should I mediate?!”
We know what you’re up against. That’s why we’ve written this article – we will show you the basics of overcoming the most common objections, show you how to get tenants to look at mediation in a positive light, and look at the precise tactics you can use to get tenants to agree to mediation.
How to engage your tenants
Much of the battle comes down to educating your tenants so that they can see mediation as a positive not a negative.
As you will know, tenants can be very reluctant and will come up with a range of objections, such as those we mentioned above. The first thing that you need to do is reframe things so that you’re taking them from a place of thinking that you’re fobbing them off to a place of them knowing that you’re trying to help.
But whilst you are trying to help them, it’s vital that you also make it clear that they need to take responsibility of the situation themselves, not just shout and expect the housing association to resolve the problem without them having any accountability.
It’s about making them see that it’s not about who’s to blame for what, it’s about coming to a mutually beneficial agreement that all parties benefit from.
Let’s look a bit deeper into how to go about this…
How to encourage your tenants that mediation is the answer
It’s important to position it so that the tenant understands the benefits of mediation for them.
Explain these benefits to them.
If they agree to mediation they will be in control of the outcome, they will be able to get their own point across, and they will get a quick resolution.
Giving them this sense of control is a powerful tool to get them engaged.
Mediation is the bridge between them sorting it out themselves and a third party deciding what happens to them. They will have the opportunity to work with the mediators, to ask questions of the other person, and find the answers that they want.
How other housing associations have successfully engaged tenants
Our housing association partners who have successfully got tenants to commit to mediation have a few tips that will help:
- Mention it to the tenants early – as part of the action plan
- Manage the tenant’s expectations. What ‘can’ you do as a housing association?
- Advise that it’s an incredibly successful tool to resolve neighbour disputes
- Use real life cases/examples to show rather than tell
Here’s some real life feedback from one of our partner’s tenants that you can use as an example:
“Not only was an agreement reached, ADR Mediation assisted me to access grief counselling as I had lost a close family member before lockdown and was struggling with this in isolation. Through some one-to-one work alongside the mediator I felt that my personal situation was affecting how I responded to my neighbour. I am very thankful of the help the mediation service provided as not only have the issues lessoned, my mental health has improved, I’m able to open up more, and I feel more hopeful about life.”
Communication tactics to convince
How you communicate is vitally important when trying to get tenants to agree to mediation.
We advocate using open ended questions – get them talking. If they open up to you in their answers you will understand exactly what their objections are and you will overcome them more effectively.
It’s also important to get them to take ownership of the situation by encouraging them to resolve their own disputes. It’s not the housing associations job to manage their life for them.
If it comes to it you can always ask, ‘if you won’t agree to mediation can we close the case then?’
It’s their choice – take responsibility and the help available, or not.
You are getting them to agree to engage with the mediator, NOT meet with the other person. That’s the mediators job!
That’s your one objective to focus on – just get the tenant to agree to a mediation discussion, we can take it from there.
So, that’s your basics covered of how to get tenants to agree to mediation.
Need to know more?
At ADR Mediation we offer a 2-hour training session to housing associations called ‘Encouraging Tenants to Mediate.’ In this session we will recap what we’ve discussed here, throw some more advanced techniques into the mix, and work with you to resolve your own real world examples.
Contact us for more information and to discuss your specific circumstances. We’re here and ready to help!