New Program Helps Landlords and Tenants Settle Disputes

Posted By: Marcia McReynolds-1 Education, Management,

As court filings for evictions double in King County, the wait time for a court date has increased accordingly. Dispute resolution centers (DRCs) throughout Washington have historically offered alternative means of settling disputes through the process of mediation.  The Bellevue Conflict Resolution Center is now launching a new voluntary program called the Housing Accord Program (HAP) to help housing providers and tenants in Bellevue and Kirkland resolve issues outside of court.

HAP is a successor to the court-mandated Eviction Resolution Pilot Program (ERPP) through which the BCRC tracked an 82% resolution rate that kept thousands of tenants housed and many housing providers paid. While ERPP may have felt restrictive to some housing providers, the HAP is different. As a now fully voluntary program, there are no state guidelines on what can be included in an agreement, and housing providers do not require a DRC certification to initiate an eviction should a mediation fall through.  

The Housing Accord Program potentially allows parties to avoid evictions, expensive court fees and long waits to get on court dockets by helping individual housing providers, managers, and tenants to negotiate repayment plans and other ways to remedy rent arrears. Unpaid rent isn’t the only issue that can be resolved; BCRC conciliators also address issues concerning maintenance, utilities, leases, and tenant-to-tenant disputes.

Either a tenant or a housing provider can initiate a case. Once the BCRC receives a request, the case is assigned to a conciliator who contacts the initial party to learn about the issue, then hears the perspective of the other party involved. If both parties agree to proceed, the conciliator goes back and forth through phone and email using a kind of “shuttle diplomacy” to arrive at a resolution that works for everyone.

If one party declines to be involved, the conciliator can still work with the other party, offering feedback, coaching, and access to a variety of local resources, including groups that provide social services and potential rental assistance. The BCRC also offers classes in de-escalation, communication, and conflict resolution, and facilitates community building in multifamily housing. 

HAP’s services are free, voluntary, impartial, and confidential. Our trained conciliators do not advocate for either party; instead, they help both parties come to their own solutions. Given the magnitude of the statewide housing crisis, helping to ensure safe and stable housing in Bellevue and Kirkland is in the community interest. 

BCRC is a dispute resolution center formed under Chapter 7.75 of the Revised Code of Washington. It is a member of Resolution WA, a state-wide consortium of 21 dispute resolution centers (DRC's) with a legislative mandate to provide an equal and alternative access to justice. If you own property outside of Bellevue or Kirkland, you can lean more and find a center near you at:  Resolution Washington.

If you wish to find out more about the Housing Accord Program, please contact Julia Devin, (425) 452-7241,  If you wish to initiate a case, email or call (425) 452-4091.