Landlord-tenant mediation provides jewel of a solution - Albuquerque Journal

Landlord-tenant mediation provides jewel of a solution

Have you ever heard the old story “Acres of Diamonds”?

It’s about a farmer who is told a tale by a wise old man that there is a place that contains riches beyond the imagination. A field full of diamonds, containing all the wealth anyone would ever desire and, if found, that person would never have to work again. The farmer, so captivated by the story, sold his farm and all of his belongings to go in search of this diamond mine. After having spent all of his money and unable to locate the mine, the farmer’s life ends tragically. Meanwhile, the person that bought the farmer’s land noticed a rock sparkling at the bottom of a creek located on the farm. Turns out, the rock was a diamond and the farm contained “acres of diamonds.” The moral of the story is pretty easy to see, the treasure we all seek may be right under our feet – or at least within our control.

While this is just a story, it is true that when considering solutions we often overlook that which is most obvious. For example, there are many landlords and tenants in our state that have had to undergo tremendous amounts of stress and financial difficulties due to the economic instabilities caused by COVID restrictions. Landlords may be unable to pay mortgages, and tenants may be unable to pay rent. The obvious solution to this predicament would be to have enough money to make all payments due.

It is surprising, therefore, that when there are millions of dollars available for just such a purpose, that so few people in this quandary have applied for and are making use of the available funds. One would think that if you needed the help, and you could go to a website, like RenthelpNM.org and apply for rental assistance, you would do so. Also, if you were a landlord and needed your tenants to pay the rent, so that you could pay your mortgage, that you would be willing to assist your tenants in applying for rental assistance at RenthelpNM.org. These funds provided by federal government subsidies can pay up to 15 months of rent and utility services. With these funds and the cooperation of all involved, the solution may be readily available.

In this regard, we have established a program at Metropolitan Court where representatives from the city of Albuquerque are available to assist in the rental assistance application process. If a landlord has filed a petition to evict a tenant for non-payment of rent, and if both parties appear in court, either in person or via Zoom, the court will place the parties into a private chat room and allow them to meet with a representative from the city of Albuquerque. Through this method, the parties are often able to resolve the payment issue and ultimately solve the dispute. We have also established a mediation program at Metropolitan Court where landlords and tenants can meet with trained mediators to help settle their disagreements.

There are people and “Acres of Diamonds” available to help provide a solution to this impasse; you just have to look around, show up and ask or apply at RenthelpNM.org.

Judge Frank Sedillo presides over the civil division of the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the judge individually and not those of the court.

 


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