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<xTITLE>Certified Eviction Mediators in Montana -- by videoconference and in person</xTITLE>

Certified Eviction Mediators in Montana -- by videoconference and in person

by LaDawn Whiteside, Temple McLean, Chandler Rowling
February 2021

Montana Mediation Association (MtMA) was established in 1998 to promote and facilitate  mediation as a viable alternative to litigation. Founded upon principles of education,  networking, best practices, and professional ethics, MtMA helps shape policy and legislation  while promoting the value and relevance of mediation throughout Montana. MtMA is a  professional, non-profit association comprised of certified mediators and other neutrals and  individuals dedicated to the principals of informed, consensual resolution of interpersonal  conflicts. 

MtMA’s purposes and functions are to: 

  1. promote mediation and other voluntary collaborative methods of conflict resolution in Montana.
  2. increase understanding and acceptance of mediation, and other appropriate processes for conflict resolution, by presenting meaningful information to the public, the courts, the legislature, and other interested professionals. 
  3. define standards of competency, qualifications, and ethics for professional mediators in Montana.
  4. support the professional growth and development of mediation and mediation programs.

Special training for landlord tenant disputes 

To use the title Certified Mediator in Montana, the individual is required to complete a rigorous  training which includes a fundamentals of mediation course followed by observation, co mediation, and independent mediation. Fifteen hours of continuing education per year is  required to maintain the credential. Mediators who have specialized in landlord/tenant  disputes typically attend training in collections, communication, and advanced mediation.  Some mediators participate in local court cases and may have advanced knowledge of the  judicial system. Some mediators interact with for-profit and not-for-profit organizations  providing housing support. Some mediators are attorneys. Some mediators are not attorneys.  If you are interested in retaining a mediator, review the directory at mtmediation.org and  interview some of the mediators to find the right one that is suited to your situation and  personality. 

Current social problem: 

For some renters in Montana, pre-COVID 19 wages earned did not cover the cost of rent in  many of the larger communities. Because of COVID 19, some wage earners have not been able  to earn income consistent with pre-COVID 19 status.

Some renters are at higher risk of COVID 19 due to chronic and acute medical problems. This  results in an inability to be in the same work environment thus unable to earn adequate wages  to pay the rental amount agreed upon. 

Landlords/property managers depend on the rent from income property to pay mortgages,  taxes, repairs, and other associated expenses. Rental income also pays for property  management salaries which in turn result in a loss of income by property managers. The effect  of COVID 19 is broader than paying for rent. 

Creating solutions: 

In Yellowstone County, Montana, the Billings Mediation Center (Conflict Resilience Project) and  MtMA have partnered with Judges Carter & Walker to use the judicial system to help landlords  and tenants work out issues. The program was piloted in 2020. Yellowstone County Justice  Court has set aside one day a week for landlord/tenant issues. In this program all self represented litigants with landlord/tenant disputes are assigned to the Billings Mediation  Center volunteers. The court schedules both the mediation and the hearing. Volunteer  mediators use the mediation process to resolve portions or all of the dispute before the  hearing. If the dispute is not resolved in its entirety, the case is sent to the judge at the  scheduled time and date. If the dispute is resolved, the judge reads the agreement into the  record, assuring the parties’ understanding of the enforceability while freeing up the judge’s time. 

In 2020, Good Samaritan Ministries took on a pilot program for a Housing Navigation program  to serve the workforce housing community members in the Lewis and Clark county. This  program connects and engages community members, landlords, property managers, and  housing partners to housing services and resources. During COVID 19, Good Samaritan has also  successfully offered financial assistance with eviction prevention, rental assistance, and  mortgage assistance. Good Samaritan continues to serve the most vulnerable and homeless  population through our Assistance Ministry, Our Place Drop-in Center, and Street Outreach  Coordinator.  

MtMA President, LaDawn Whiteside, Certified Mediator, is in contact with various housing  organizations across the State of Montana providing collaboration and training with Income  Property Managers, the Montana Landlords Association local chapters and Montana Legal  Services Association. Judge Carter and Certified Mediator Temple McLean, Executive Director  of the Billings Mediation Center have worked with the Yellowstone County landlords and  property management associations. 

Residential homes/facilities, Housing Projects, a special need. 

Certified Mediators with an interest in seniors have special training and experience working  with seniors and people who need housing because of a disability. These mediators have a 

special designation for family and eldercare. These mediators with family and eldercare  designations are defined on the MtMA directory at mtmediation.org. 

Cost of Mediation: 

Each mediator sets an individual rate for mediation. Some mediators charge per case. Some  mediators charge by the hour. Some mediators charge sliding scale based on income of parties. 

Agreement: 

Those mediations conducted in a court are the most formal and binding. Most mediators  require a written agreement to mediate and a written agreement with binding requirements  for both parties. However, on occasion parties may choose to dispense with a written  agreement. In this case, the mediator facilitates the conversation and the specifications of the  agreement. If either party defaults on the written or information agreement, the parties can  utilize mediation again, or the case may be filed in the appropriate court.

Biography


LaDawn Whiteside

Current President of Montana Mediation Association.
With thirty years experience in healthcare, my career began as an Assistant Activity Director in a nursing home before spending 25 years in healthcare regulation. As the Complaint and Abuse Coordinator with a healthcare regulatory agency for over 20 years, I have had the unique opportunity to listen, advise, recommend, mediate, advocate, and resolve issues related to concerns of residents/patients, health care facilities and/or family members. Between 2004 and 2014, I participated in over 200 Informal Dispute Resolution (IDR) hearings between healthcare facilities and the regulatory agency. As a result, I comprehend the complexities of employee conflicts, discharge planning challenges and the care planning process with healthcare facilities. I retired from the Senior and Long Term Care Division in the Home and Community Based Waiver program May 2017. From 2018-2020 I was the Abuse in Late Life Advocate at The Friendship Center which is a domestic violence shelter in Helena, Montana. I currently volunteer at the shelter a few hours a week. I am a nationally qualified Eldercaring Coordinator in Idaho. I am an AARP volunteer who focuses on Prepare to Care and Social Media Fraud Prevention topics.

Additionally, since 1990 I have been a renter and/or a landlord. I have provided training and education to many groups and associations regarding the differences between mediation and small claims court. I am currently working with the Billings Mediation Center's Conflict Resiliency Program regarding tenant evictions.

Conflict areas I-Mediate : Employee disputes; long term care facility discharge notice conflicts; delinquent payment issues; Facility Admission Contract/ Agreement issues; conflicts between residents, family members and facilities and landlord/tenant disputes.
Providing Education, Advocacy and Mediation for all aspects of the aging community.

Training available: landlord and tenant conflicts, Solving communication barriers during care plan meetings, disability etiquette, resource development, understanding the differences in State of Montana and Federal laws and rules for healthcare facilities.

Temple McLean

Providing facilitative mediation to Billings and surrounding rural communities. No court case is required to request mediation services.


Chandler Rowling is a housing coordinator with Good Samaritan Ministries.