Mandatory Mediation Program Slow to Get Rolling
Despite the availability of the mediation program for Marin renters, many have chosen not to utilize the program. Some have expressed concerns that if they try to work out their rent increase dispute with their landlords through mediation when rent is increased it could backfire on them and they could be the victims of retaliation.
The county board has attempted to address a number of issues, including the area’s housing crisis and they are hoping to created potential improvements to the inspection program for multi-unit housing facilities.
According to LeeLee Thomas, principal planner with Marin’s Community Development Agency, stated, “The Consumer Protection Unit reports that every tenant who has called to inquire about the county’s mandatory mediation services has expressed concern that participation in the program could result in an eviction. Some applicants have chosen not to apply for that reason. ”
According to those in the know, it is tough for tenants to feel comfortable expressing concerns if they know their landlord can evict them. Those in charge of the program have tried to offer some comfort renters, but landlords are free to evict without giving any reason. This means it is practically impossible for a tenant to prevail in a retaliation claim.
There have been six people who have applied for mandatory mediation so far since the program launched. Only three of the six have been deemed eligible so far. One of the mediations has already taken place and ended with a landlord-tenant agreement that hiked rent 10 percent on a two-year lease.
Another of the three mediations did not result in an agreement and the increase was enacted. The third case, which arose when a landlord wanted to increase rent by 43 percent, is still ongoing.