CONCORD, NH — To help residential landlords and tenants resolve their differences before eviction cases are filed in court, the New Hampshire Judicial Branch is launching a new, no-cost mediation program. The eviction diversion mediation program will be administered by the Office of Mediation and Arbitration and the New Hampshire Circuit Court and is supported by federal funds administered by Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery.
Before an eviction case is filed, residential landlords or tenants can request a remote mediation process through the Office of Mediation and Arbitration to help explore the issues causing their dispute. A neutral third-party mediator will help them to reach an agreement on issues such as paying back rent, or applying for rental assistance, among other issues, and will assist the parties in drafting a contract to resolve their dispute.
Importantly, the new eviction diversion mediation program will only mediate cases before an eviction case (also known as a Landlord and Tenant Writ) is filed with the court, and a request for mediation does not automatically halt the eviction process. Parties in cases where an eviction seems likely, or where an eviction notice has been served, must act quickly to request mediation from the eviction diversion program. Mediation after an eviction case is filed will only be available at limited Circuit Court locations.
The new statewide program builds on the success of a pilot project this past winter at two court locations, noted Margaret Huang, Alternative Dispute Resolution Coordinator. Landlords and tenants in the pilot were able to reach agreements in more than 70 percent of cases that went to mediation, and a follow-up survey found 91 percent of landlords and tenants who responded reported being satisfied with the process.
“The pilot project demonstrated that mediation in eviction cases works,” Huang said. “In this new program, we will be offering free mediation to landlords and tenants before a court case is filed. By targeting disputes ‘upstream’ of the court, our goal is that the eviction diversion mediation program will save people time and expense. Additionally, we are able to offer these mediation services remotely across the state.”
Circuit Court Administrative Judge David King, who oversees the courts responsible for hearing eviction cases, noted that eviction diversion will benefit landlords, tenants, and the courts. King explained, “When parties can resolve a dispute without filing an eviction, everyone wins. Landlords avoid the time, expense, and uncertainty of going to court, tenants avoid the black mark of an eviction case on their records, and the courts see fewer new cases.”
King also stated that eviction diversion complements the Circuit Court’s ongoing efforts to connect landlords and tenants to rental assistance, noting that, “Eviction diversion will help landlords and tenants work together to apply for rental assistance, which can get landlords paid and keep tenants housed.”
Commissioner Taylor Caswell, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery, applauded the new program, stating, “To date, thanks to successful partnerships all across the state we have been able to provide approximately $60M in relief to Granite State households in need. We very much appreciate the New Hampshire Circuit Court expanding their pilot program and working with us statewide to connect Granite State families impacted by COVID-19 with the resources provided by the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NHERAP).”
To request the assistance of the eviction diversion program, a residential landlord or tenant should either call the Office of Mediation and Arbitration at 603-271-6418 or send an email to email@example.com
- Note: A request for mediation does not automatically pause a landlord and tenant case. If a tenant is served with a Landlord and Tenant Writ, the tenant must file an Appearance with the court which issued the Writ no later than the “return date” listed on the Writ. If the tenant does not file an Appearance, the court may evict the tenant even if the tenant has requested mediation.
- To learn more about eviction diversion or landlord and tenant cases generally, visit the Circuit Court’s landlord and tenant website at: https://www.courts.nh.gov/our-courts/circuit-court/district-division/landlordtenant.
- Landlords and tenants with questions about their specific case can call the Court’s Information Center at 1-855-212-1234.
- For more information about the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program and to start an application, landlords and tenant can go to CAPNH.org or call 2-1-1 to be connected to their local Community Action Program, which will process their application.
- Low-income individuals who may need legal advice or assistance should contact 603 Legal Aid at: https://nhlegalaid.org/get-help or 1-800-639-5290 (weekdays, 9 AM – 1 PM).