UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

New Landlord-Tenant Dispute Resolution Program

The City of Greensboro and UNCG are teaming up to help landlords and tenants iron out their differences through mediation rather than litigation.

Slated to launch in April, the Landlord-Tenant Dispute Program is a partnership between the City of Greensboro Human Relations Department and the UNCG Program in Conflict Studies and Dispute Resolution.

“The beauty of mediation is that the people involved in the dispute, in this case the landlords and the tenants, have the decision-making authority,” said Nancy Sharpless, a graduate student and coordinator of the initiative. “Even if people can’t reach a mutually satisfactory resolution, they may gain greater understanding of the issues, and they don’t lose the right to pursue other remedies.”

Robert Nunn, a human relations administrator with the city, first identified the need for the new program. “I noticed a larger volume of calls being received in the Human Relations Department from tenants who were having problems with their landlords about repair issues and other matters that I thought would be ideal for mediation,” he said.

He thought about the university’s Program in Conflict Studies and Dispute Resolution and believed this would be a great opportunity for the city and UNCG to form a partnership to offer this much needed service to landlords and tenants. Two stakeholder meetings were held where landlords, tenant advocates, Legal Aid attorneys, property management personnel and other real estate professionals met with the Human Relations Department and UNCG to provide input.

“It’s clear from these meetings that, especially in today’s economy, landlords want to keep tenants in their units if possible to keep the revenue coming in, and tenants want to remain in their apartments,” Nunn said.

The Landlord-Tenant Dispute Program is voluntary and can provide opportunities for tenants and landlords to eliminate communication barriers and work together. Issues that can be mediated include but are not limited to damaged property, noise complaints, repairs and financial problems.

Both parties must agree to come together and discuss the issues. The mediator is skilled in assisting landlords and tenants in defining and clarifying issues; reducing obstacles to communication; exploring possible solutions; and reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement.

“Conflict studies are good to talk about, but most useful when applied to the issues and challenges of our community,” said Dr. Cathie Witty, director of the Program in Conflict Studies and Dispute Resolution. “We hope this effort is the beginning of additional collaboration between the city and the university in making services more responsive.”

The city will begin scheduling mediation sessions as soon as referrals are made. For more information, contact the City of Greensboro Human Relations Department at (336) 373-2038.

Additional info may be found at conresuncg.blogspot.com.