Topic No. 402: Mediation
The Rent Board offers mediation as an alternative to arbitration in certain types of cases. Mediation is a confidential process whereby a neutral party, known as a mediator, meets with people who are in conflict and helps them to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution. Unlike an arbitrator, a mediator does not make decisions for the participants. Instead, the parties make their own decisions as to how to resolve their differences. The mediator merely acts as a guide, facilitating communication between the parties. Sometimes, it is productive for the mediator to meet separately with the participants in order to help them analyze their options and evaluate the risks associated with each option.
Parties often prefer mediation to arbitration because it is more flexible. In a mediation, the parties can negotiate for results that might not be permissible in an arbitration. Moreover, mediation helps re-establish the relationship and provides guidance for dealing with future problems. Another advantage of mediation over arbitration is that the process is quicker because it can result in a binding, enforceable agreement that is not subject to appeal. The Rent Board mediator usually prepares the agreement for the parties during the mediation session, so the parties will leave the Rent Board with a final agreement in hand. Occasionally, the parties are unable to reach agreement after participating in a mediation session. In such cases, the petition will be scheduled for a separate arbitration hearing within about 30 days.
For more information on mediation at the Rent Board, please refer to Fact Sheet 8, "Hearings, Mediations and Appeals." To receive a copy of Fact Sheet 8, you can fax it to yourself through our Fax back system by calling 252-4660 or visit our website at www.sfgov.org/rentboard. Fact Sheet 8 is also available at our office.