Winston-Salem Using Mediation to Resolve Landlord-Tenant Disputes
Mediation is up next for those involved in landlord-tenant disputes that arose out of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mediation was requested by Chief District Judge Lisa Menefee and will be overseen by the Winston-Salem Human Relations Department in the upcoming weeks and will hopefully resolve the backlog of disputes that are currently in the court system. The majority of disputes focus on issues of non-payment due to the virus pandemic fallout.
Judge Menefee believes that sending the rent-related disputes to mediation will free up court space for other more complex landlord-tenant cases. The mediation session will be done remotely.
Under normal circumstances, the Human Relations Department mediates these types of disputes before them being filed in court. The department has two trained mediators on staff, but will also call in attorneys and professional mediators as volunteers to help with the backlog of rent-related cases.
Additional help will be provided by students from the Wake Forest University law school’s legal center. Student volunteers will receive training before entering the role of mediator and will help them gain familiarity with laws related to landlord-tenant situations, as well as the provisions that have been put in place temporarily in response to COVID-19.
The special pre-mediation training session will also be offered to the attorneys and mediators helping with the cases. Not all of them are familiar with landlord-tenant laws and guidelines related to the pandemic. One of the volunteers stated they are honored to partner with the court and believe it to be the first program of its kind in North Carolina