Friday, August 24, 2007

Mediation for Happy Condominium Living

Mediation can be an effective tool for helping parties to a lawsuit settle their case out of court. But many mediators are also involved in helping to prevent lawsuits from happening in the first place.

And, even in disputes that might not be headed to litigation, mediation is a great option for settling disputes (both monetary and non-monetary), opening the lines of communication between individuals with ongoing relationships (like neighbors) and promoting the enjoyment of one's living or working conditions, among other things.

An article in New Jersey's Asbury Park Press discusses the usefulness of mediation in "ensuring peace and harmony among neighbors." The article refers specifically to condominium owners, but has broad application to owners and renters of condominiums or any other living spaces.

A few highlights from the article:

"Even if they are restricted in some of the rights they would otherwise have if they lived outside of the [condominium] community, they are still likely to have neighborhood spats, encounter problems with issues that arise from regulations governing their units and the appearance of them, differences of opinion concerning the use of common property and so forth. How are these disputes to be handled?"
"Don't communities want to have processes in place for managing these kinds of disputes, consistent, of course, with law and community rules? Does every unresolved difference, dispute and conflict need to wind up as an "association matter" or a contest in court?"
"Mediation, particularly, can bring into constructive dialogue the legitimate but divergent interests that require reconciliation if there is to be reasonable agreement with respect to how and where and under what conditions people live. Agreements reached in this forum are more likely to be implemented because they have the support of the individuals and groups who, having participated, are committed to making their agreements work."
"But having the authority to decide is only part of the picture. It also means understanding that effective mechanisms for managing differences can strengthen the community bonds that make life in condominium communities more livable, reasonable and, for some particularly, less oppressive. Giving people an opportunity to be involved in developing the rules that govern their living arrangements, and a fair and effective process for airing differences, provides for a quality-of-life difference that can help to build and sustain community norms and values."

To read the full article follow this link.
(By the way, I haven't read the book "Condominium" - but I enjoyed the cover!)

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