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Last updated: 7/28/17

Dispute Resolution

We offer low and no-cost mediation to help you resolve your housing disputes.

Housing disputes can arise between landlords and tenants, residents and managers, roommates and neighbors. We partner with the Community Dispute Settlement Center to provide mediation for these conflicts.

What is mediation? Through the help of a mediator, participants can try to reach a resolution over their housing dispute. A mediator:

  • guides the participants' discussion
  • identifies options for solutions, and
  • helps put an agreement into writing.

Would you like a referral for no or low-cost mediation services? Contact us at 617-635-4200 (and select option 4).

Contact the Office of Housing Stability with your questions:

617-635-4200
(Select Option 4)

About the Mediation Process

Learn about the Mediation Process
  • Cost-saving. Mediation services are no or low-cost, offering a less expensive alternative to court.
  • Convenient and efficient. Mediators will work with participants to schedule a mediation session at a convenient time and place.  
  • Voluntary. Participation in mediation is completely voluntary.
  • Empowerment. Participants control the outcome, including whether to reach an agreement and on what terms.
  • Private and confidential. Discussion during mediation is kept private and confidential. It cannot be used in court, and will not be told to the City.
  • Improved communication. Participants can openly share their side of the story, improving communication, understanding, and relationships.
  • Qualified neutrals. Mediators are knowledgeable in resolving housing disputes, sensitive in navigating personal issues, and are culturally competent. Bilingual mediators are available.
Prepare yourself

You and the other party should think about what you hope to accomplish, and what you can offer to find a resolution. You should also consider what legal rights you have, and what you may be giving up if you reach a deal. You aren’t required to have an attorney at mediation, but you may benefit from getting legal advice ahead of time.

Questions about your legal rights?

You should contact a legal services organization for advice, or the Office of Housing Stability for information. We may be able to provide additional resources or referrals.

Creating a safe environment

At the start, the mediator gives everyone the opportunity to tell their side of the story, and say what they hope to accomplish. It is important for all sides to listen and be respectful while others speak. After everyone has had a chance to speak, the mediator will help guide the discussion toward reaching a resolution. The mediator helps find creative and long-term solutions. The mediator does not take sides. When coming to an agreement, participants must consider whether they can meet and comply with any of the proposed terms. You also must consider what benefits or rights you’re giving up.

Reaching an agreement

If you reach an agreement, the mediator will help you put the agreement in writing. Before signing any agreement, you should read it carefully. Make sure it reflects the terms discussed. If you have a question about the language, or don’t understand certain terms, ask to have it explained. You can also have the language re-written in a way you understand. An agreement reached in mediation can be an enforceable contract.

Not satisfied?

After mediation, you may not feel satisfied with the result. This is common, as any deal reached reflects a compromise of everyone’s positions. If you don’t reach an agreement, you can discuss scheduling another mediation session.

Talks can continue

You can also use the mediation session as a starting point and continue to talk and negotiate directly. If an agreement is not reached, you retain your legal rights. You can also have your dispute heard in court.