The Pinellas Eviction Diversion Program (“PEDP”) is a newly launched initiative of the Community Law Program designed to assist qualified tenants and landlords who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This program has several elements which can assist landlords whose tenants have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Helps Prevent Evictions
If all parties agree to mediate, a staff member of PEDP will assign the mediation to a PEDP contract mediator. A staff member or a contract mediator will then coordinate a Zoom mediation. The Zoom mediation typically lasts 30 minutes to an hour and is completely free of charge. The mediation is an opportunity for the parties to express their respective positions and work towards a resolution of the outstanding issues associated with the tenancy (for example, past-due rent due owed to the landlord or repairs requested by the tenant). If an agreement is reached at mediation (which is entirely voluntary - the mediator has no decision-making authority and cannot make either party reach an agreement or sign a document), then the mediator will memorialize the agreement. For cases that have been filed with the Court, this Agreement can be filed with the Court and will become a Court Order. In most cases, the Agreement will end the litigation. For cases that have not been filed with the Court, this Agreement becomes a binding contract between the parties.
The landscape of available rental assistance programs to help tenants get caught up on rent is constantly changing. PEDP is here to help tenants figure out if they qualify for these services and to help them navigate the process. When available, we also may be able to help expedite the process. For you, the tenant, this means that your landlord can see the relief on the horizon and may be willing to forgo an eviction action while working with our program.
Landlords have been adversely impacted by the pandemic because they rely on rental income to pay mortgages, property taxes, insurance, and to maintain their properties. At PEDP, we understand the financial hardships of landlords and are here to help the landlord community through financial assistance to qualified tenants.
Eviction Diversion Works
Frequently Asked Questions
- You save the costs associated with filing an eviction case that is likely to become contested (filing fees and attorneys’ fees)
- You prevent the cost of advertising for a new tenant and making repairs or renovations to prepare the property for a new tenant
- Your income remains steady without a lapse in rental income while trying to locate a new tenant
- Mediated agreements, which are voluntary, are much more likely to be honored by both parties
Saves time/minimizes stress:
- Avoid an eviction action which can take months of your time
- Avoid time spent working with lawyers to resolve disputes between tenants and devote that time to growing your business
- No time devoted to preparation for contested hearings
- Avoids the uncertainty and stress of going before a judge
- End your case with the certainty that you have an agreement in place
Mediation is a voluntary process, but we ask that landlords approach it with an open mind and a willingness to compromise. We do not require a financial commitment.
If an agreement is reached at mediation in a litigated case, we ask that the landlord agrees to dismiss the eviction action and seal the file if the tenant complies with his/her part of the agreement. There are no other “strings attached” for landlords.
- You can call us at (727) 582 – 7475 or reach out through the online portal.
- A Staff member will ask you for the name & contact information of your tenant, or alternatively, you can have your tenant reach out directly to us.
- An Intake Specialist will conduct an intake interview with your tenant.
- If mediation is advisable, we will schedule a remote mediation with one of our Contract Mediators. This mediation typically takes 30 minutes to an hour but can last up to two hours.
Our Staff may ask you for:
- Your driver’s license (to prove identity) and verification of settlement authority
- A copy of the lease with your tenant
- A statement, spreadsheet, or ledger of what your tenants owes to you and why they owe it
- A W-9 form (for rental assistance payments)
Mediation is a non-adversarial process in which a certified mediator speaks with both parties, listens to their concerns, and endeavors to negotiate an agreement between them. The mediator will clarify the issues, identify areas of agreement, and help develop possible solutions. The mediator is not on anyone’s side and won’t decide who is “right” and who is “wrong.” The mediator will not make a decision on your case, as he/she is not a Judge. Rather, the mediator helps both sides understand each other, brainstorms about solutions, and tries to help the parties reach an agreement to end their dispute.
In most mediations, the landlord and tenant will be in separate “breakout rooms” on Zoom. The mediator will go back and forth between the virtual rooms endeavoring to find common ground with you and your tenant. Mediation is confidential (with certain exceptions), so this means that neither you nor your tenant are to share any communications made during mediation with third parties.
If any agreement is reached, the mediator will generate it, and you and your tenant can sign it. If the case has been filed with the Court, this can be submitted to the Court to end the case. If the case has not yet been filed with the Court, this document becomes a binding contract between you and your tenant.
You will receive a Mediation Intake Form and Agreement to Mediation to complete. Please complete these forms and return to our office via email 24-48 hours before your mediation. These forms will ask you for a complete copy of the lease, a ledger of unpaid rent, and a statement of other issues you may be experiencing with your tenant. Please think ahead about possibilities for the resolution of your contested issues. The more prepared you are in advance, the easier and faster your mediation will be!
If an agreement is not reached at mediation, either party may pursue remedies available to them under the law. It is advisable for both parties to obtain advice from an attorney as to their rights under Florida law.
We encourage active negotiation even if mediation is not successful. You can negotiate an agreement up to the point of going to court, and even after going to court. An agreement can be reached at any point and you can always end your case amicably.