Mediation Services of North Central MA, Inc. is part of a statewide initiative to provide free mediation services to landlords and tenants who are trying to avoid eviction proceedings in court.
Mediation is a VOLUNTARY AND CONFIDENTIAL conversation with the assistance of trained neutral mediators. The mediators manage a process that gets the parties to focus on what is important to them and how they want to move forward. We help people think through what they need to resolve the issues that got them to this point and what would work for ALL parties moving forward.
In order to protect our clients, mediators, and staff members of, in this time of Covid-19, distancing and facemasks, all of our mediation services are being done virtually. Our preferred mediation method is Zoom video conferencing, which allows our mediators to see eachother and our clients and read body language and facial expressions. In order to protect your privacy on Zoom, we make sure to have personal invites for each mediation with passwords, every person participating must sign an agreement to participate which concerns certain obligations they must take to keep what is said during the mediation confidential.
Step 1: Referral (referrals can come from a party (someone involved in the case), an attorney, another service agency, a court, etc. A referral must contain at least names and a way to contact both parties.
Step 2: MSI staff then contacts each party to educate them about the mediation process, get more information from that party and the case to see if it is appropriate for mediation, and whether or not each party is interested in participating in mediation.
Step 3: Mediation is scheduled and documents and other information is sent to parties.
Step 4: Mediation held. If agreement made- the signed agreement is distributed to parties, courts, or other agencies as appropriate. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, then we may make additional referrals as appropriate or the parties are free to seek other avenues post mediation.
● Call Mass 2-1-1: www.mass211.org
○ For information on rent and mortgage assistance, as well as referrals to other social services. Mass 211 answers calls 24/7 all 365 days of the year. They have an English and a Spanish menu and offer interpreter service for over 150 languages.
● Mass.gov information on Resources for Renters, Homeowners and Landlords: www.mass.gov/covid-19-getting-help-with-housing-costs
○ Includes information on getting help with RAFT and ERMA, getting help with rent and mortgage payments, foreclosure and forbearance information for homeowners, and more. Local RAFT and ERMA assistance: RCAP | Resources for Communities and People (rcapsolutions.org)
Central MA Housing Alliance- housing counseling: https://www.cmhaonline.org
● COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Initiative: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-eviction-diversion-initiative-overview
● Massachusetts Legal Resource Finder: www.MassLRF.org, or from the Find Legal Help link on Mass Legal Help and CELHP - Massachusetts COVID Eviction Legal Help Project
○ To find contact information for the civil legal aid program that serves your region. Also has contact information for other legal help resources, including nonprofits with legal programs, government hotlines, court based programs, the private bar and other sources of legal help.
● Mass Legal Answers Online: www.MassLAO.org
○ Online legal advice from a volunteer attorney
● Mass Legal Help: www.masslegalhelp.org/covid-19/housing
○ Legal information about a wide range of housing related legal issues, including the CDC moratorium, and information about evictions. Also has a link to the CDC Moratorium form.
● MADE (Massachusetts Defense for Eviction): www.masslegalhelp.org/housing/eviction-answer-interview
○ An online guided interview that helps tenants create their own answer and request for discovery