Free mediation services are being offered to landlords and tenants on the Big Island in Hawaii. The goal is to alleviate disputes regarding rent payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program has already helped 100 clients.
Beginning in May, the Rapid Response Landlord-Tenant Mediation Programs has worked on nearly two dozen cases. The goal is to reduce the potential burden of cases that will need to be dealt with in the court system once things open back up after the pandemic has passed.
Julie Mitchell, executive director of Ku’ikahi Mediation Center where the program is run, called the first three months successful and hopes the success continues. According to Mitchell, “It is equally beneficial for both sides. A lot of times, just allowing people to talk to each other about this is a huge help for everyone.”
The program launched shortly after Hawaii’s governor put a moratorium on evictions in the state. The goal is to get landlords and tenants together in a controlled environment to discuss their circumstances and deal with issues that arise as a direct result of the pandemic.
Mitchell believes the program will continue to be a helpful tool in the months ahead as we continue to deal with the pandemic. She believes tenants are helped by the program because they become aware of resources they did not know existed that could help them meet their rental obligations. Landlords benefit because they can discuss alternative payment arrangements with tenants moving forward. Data shows more than 28 million people are at risk of eviction due to COVID-19.