The New Hampshire Circuit Court will pilot a free, voluntary mediation program to resolve eviction disputes.
Margaret Huang is the coordinator of the Office of Mediation and Arbitration.
She says eviction cases across New Hampshire are lower than normal because of the CDC's eviction moratorium. But with that expiring at the end of March, eviction filings could go up, and mediation could be a way to alleviate the increase and resolve evictions.
"We're piloting the program now to see if it will give us the benefits we want it to. Mainly that landlords and tenants will feel satisfied with the process,” she said.
Huang says she hopes mediation will give tenants and landlords an opportunity in an informal setting to talk about what's important to them, and come to a solution that meets their needs.
“This is especially important for people who are likely to represent themselves in court,” she said. “Having this informal setting with a trained, neutral facilitator to sort of tell their side of the story, and come up with these agreements that come up with them.”
After a landlord files a case in court, and the tenant responds, the case is scheduled for mediation and a hearing.
Tenants and landlords have can opt-out of mediation, but if they don’t opt-out they’re expected to go to mediation. If the case is not resolved that way, then the case will continue to court.
Concord and Claremont's circuit courts will be the first to pilot the program, which could be expanded to courts statewide.