Consider mediation for evictions

Published 8:52 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

To the editor:

A recent Princeton University study revealed that the Hampton Roads area of Virginia has some of the highest rates of eviction of rental tenants in the nation.

I’d like to point out that there is an important tool that can be used to help alleviate the problem of excessive evictions in Virginia.

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Most General District Courts in the Hampton Roads area offer free mediation services for lawsuit cases that come up on their dockets. Through mediation, mutually agreeable terms allowing tenants to pay off their owed balances to their landlords can be set up, often without the tenant being evicted.

In mediation, there are no rulings imposed upon either of the parties; their agreements are completely their own. If the parties do not fulfill the terms of agreement, the case goes back to court on the continuance date. In general, however, the parties to a mediation agreement do, in fact, live up to their agreements.

As a Virginia Certified Mediator, the most common type of court cases that I deal with are landlord/tenant cases, and most of the time, the parties reach an agreement. Mediation buys some time for the tenants to clear up their housing debts, and it gives landlords a much easier way to collect monies they are owed than by trying to collect on judgments.

Kermit Hobbs