Fort Collins, CO Community Mediation Program
Have you ever noticed that the things our neighbors do - from the way they mow (or don't mow) their lawns, to the way they let their dog bark all night long - can often be an irritation and source of hostility? Often times, these minor annoyances are not addressed and silent resentment begins to build, leading to additional frustration, anger, and the threat of potential retaliation. Talking with your neighbor may be a way to reduce the tension and solve the problem, but there are times when neighbors simply can't work out their disputes and must find some way to live together despite their differences.
That is where our Community Mediation Program comes in. With the guidance of professionally trained and certified mediators, neighbors can come together in a neutral setting to resolve their dispute in a way that fosters creativity, communication and compromise. The effectiveness of mediation is directly related to the participants' willingness to settle their differences permanently, without the cost and hassle of the alternatives (lawsuits, police action, relocation, retaliation). Because the dispute-solving process is active, requiring the consent and satisfaction of both parties, agreements reached in mediation are considered binding.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Community Mediation Program
1. What kinds of issues can be resolved with the Community Mediation Program?
- Common area disputes
- Parking space problems
- Property maintenance/nuisance issues
- Renters/homeowner conflicts
- Housemate disputes
- Safety and environmental concerns
- Landlord/tenant disputes
- Some HOA covenant enforcement
2. What are the advantages to mediation?
- Solutions tend to last over time because the people affected by the decisions are the ones making them.
- Mediation is successful over 95% of the time when both parties actively participate.
- All information about the dispute remains confidential; this process will not result in police or court records unless specified in case documentation.
- The community mediation program is a free, informal service, led by volunteer, professionally-trained mediators who will act as neutral agents to bring about a mutually acceptable solution.
- The voluntary resolution of problems builds cooperation, positive attitudes and stronger relationships with others... all leading toward a stronger neighborhood and community. The costs of alternative dispute resolution services are generally much higher in both time and money. Community mediation is free to all City residents.
3. How does the process of mediation work?
A simple phone call or office visit gets the process moving. If all involved parties agree to mediate, a time will be set to resolve the conflict. At the mediation session, parties will be asked to explain their feelings and concerns about the situation. Next, the mediators will assist the parties in finding a solution that is determined by and agreed upon by all. The process, while informal, is considered binding as a final written agreement will be drafted and enforced by those who sign it (unless otherwise stated in the agreement). If an agreement cannot be reached in one or two mediation sessions, or if a dispute lies beyond the boundaries of this community service, alternative resources will be recommended. If all involved parties agree to mediation, the case will be sent to a team of co-mediators who facilitate an agreement between the parties. Mediations are confidential and offered as a free dispute resolution service for qualified participants.
4. How long does it take?
Generally, to mediate a conflict between neighbors or a landlord and tenant(s) it takes one session, or about two hours. Larger party conflicts often requires several meetings.
5. What does it cost?
Mediation services are offered free of charge to City residents, and can actually be much more cost-effective in terms of time, money, and hassle than other forms of dispute resolution.
6. Who needs to be at the mediation session?
The people involved in the conflict need to be there. All parties who wish to participate in mediation must first be OK’d through program staff, and all measures are taken to ensure that only those individuals directly involved in the dispute will be permitted to attend the meeting. Whenever possible, we strive to keep the numbers balanced on both sides of the table. Mediation is about fairness.
7. Where do you hold the mediation sessions?
We meet in a safe, convenient and neutral place, the mediation conference room at the City’s CPES Building, 281 N. College Avenue, 2nd floor. Please arrive a few minutes early to find parking and get comfortable.
8. Can you explain mediation to the person I'm in conflict with?
Yes, we will contact all the parties involved, explain mediation and attempt to get their agreement and consent to be involved in the process. If not all parties are open to mediation, alternative resolution ideas will be provided whenever possible.
9. What about confidentiality?
All conversations, information and records are confidential as outlined in Colorado Statute 13-22-301, the Dispute Resolution Act. mediation proceedings are protected from discovery through the judicial process. Tape recorders are not permitted, nor are attorneys.
10. Is our agreement enforceable?
Yes. Signed mediation agreements, or Memorandums of Understanding, are considered to be binding contracts and can be enforced by the parties listed, and/or civil courts.
11. What if we don't reach an agreement?
If you are unable to reach an agreement, your mediators will assist you in writing up a summary of the issues and identify where there is agreement, if any, and where there is not agreement. Your mediators will also suggest alternative resources or courses of action.
12. What about Landlord/Tenant Disputes?
The Mediation Program accepts landlord/tenant disputes for mediation so long as the rental property lies within the Fort Collins city limits. To be sure certain your dispute is eligible for mediation, consult the Landlord/Tenant webpage.
13. When should I consider the Municipal Court Mediation Program?
- Are you involved in a municipal code violation?
- Would you be willing to work out your conflict by engaging in a creative process that results in an alternative resolution?
- Do you want an opportunity to present your side fairly and without penalty of judgment?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be eligible for the Municipal Court Mediation Program.