It’s clear that sometimes less serious issues for housing associations are taking up a disproportionate amount of time. Time that staff could spend on more pressing matters.
Sometimes officers can spend a lot of time on petty problems without being able to find or offer a resolution, which compounds the issue.
So, low-level disputes have the potential to cause bigger problems. Both in terms of how they impact housing associations on a day to day basis, and due to the potential they have to escalate into more significant issues.
This is something that we are now paying close attention to. Mediation can often quickly and easily resolve low-level disputes so it’s time to start talking more about how we can help you.
How to classify low-level disputes
How you classify low-level disputes will depend on the type of issues you usually face. Typically when we refer to a situation as a low-level dispute it’s the less serious problems between tenants that we’re talking about.
These issues include:
- Breakdown in friendships
- Children falling out
- Noise of children in the home or playing outside
- Difference in lifestyles or expectations
- Cultural differences
- Where wheelie bins are left
- Tenants just not liking each other
- Lack of understanding regarding the other person or their situation
These issues are less likely to have a lasting damaging impact on people’s lives than say an ASB case or a domestic violence case, for example.
What problems do low-level disputes cause?
As we’ve mentioned, the big problem is them taking up too much of a housing association’s time. This has a knock-on effect that can lead to housing associations having less time to handle more serious matters.
Housing associations, local authorities and police also report the following issues when it comes to handling low-level disputes:
- These cases can be harder to resolve as often no action can be taken
- Tenants report that they feel anxious living in the property because of the neighbour and put pressure on housing to do something about it
- It’s common for tenants to expect others to sort out the mess
How do you improve the situation?
Quite simply, mediation and conflict coaching work. Using mediation to resolve low-level disputes stops things escalating and prevents more serious issues.
Conflict coaching involves us working one-to-one with tenants to coach and empower them to resolve their own disputes to take the pressure off the housing association.
Handling low-level disputes with mediation
We often take a slightly different approach when we’re involved in low-level dispute cases.
Primarily we seek to get to the bottom of why the issue arose in the first place. Sometimes it can all be down to a simple misunderstanding or the parties involved not understanding each other’s perspective.
The mediator will start such a session by asking each person to explain why they feel the situation is the way it is. Hearing it from the other person’s point of view allows the conversation to move to a more positive place and makes a quick resolution much more likely.
This is why mediation can often resolve small matters straight away, especially if you involve third party mediators.
It’s always important to handle low-level disputes quickly as the longer you leave a situation the more likely that it will blow up into a bigger issue.
This is the tip of the iceberg though and every case is different. That’s why we’re hosting a webinar to cover handling low-level disputes in detail in February – and it’s free for you to join us!
Upcoming webinar: How Can Mediation & Conflict Coaching Tackle Low-Level Neighbour Disputes?
Kim Logan, our CEO, will host the webinar alongside an expert panel to discuss a wide-range of low-level neighbour disputes and how to deal with them through mediation, complete with real-life examples.
Joining Kim on the panel will be:
- Liz Smith – Head of ASB, Stockport Homes
- Darren Burton – Head of Housing Consultancy Services, Forbes Solicitors
- Marie Coombes – Conflict Coaching Specialist, We Restore Calm
In the webinar we will cover:
- A look at the different types of low-level neighbour disputes
- The impact handling these disputes is having on housing associations
- An introduction to conflict coaching
- How mediation and conflict coaching can help prevent issues from escalating
- Real-world examples of resolved cases
This free-to-attend 1-hour webinar is on Thursday 10th February at 10am. To find out more and to book your spot simply complete the form on this page. We hope to see you there!