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Property disputes : a free mediation service available

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All real estate professionals are required to make available a mediation service to their clients. Whether you have a dispute concerning a property purchase or rental property management, you can contact a free and independent mediation service.

This service became mandatory last January following a European directive drawn up in 2013. Among the property disputes dealt with by this service are, for new builds, the completion date, or any reservations noted on delivery of the property. For existing property the most common areas of dispute concern the purchase (hidden defects, fees etc.) or the management of rental property insofar as the estate agent is responsible.

The procedure followed by each mediator will be the same. The client must first prove that an attempt has been made to resolve the dispute directly with the professional via a written complaint. The client must then contact the mediator no later than one year after the written complaint has been sent. The mediator’s contact details figure systematically on the estate agent’s web sites, brochures and other documents (reservation contracts or deeds for new builds, or sales mandate for existing property). The mediator then has three weeks to state whether the case falls within his or her jurisdiction. Once the referral is validated, the mediator should be able to give a solution within 90 days. This process can be carried out entirely online.

Both parties are of course free to leave the process at any moment or to refuse the offer of mediation and take the case to court. A final point to remember is that the process, whatever the outcome, is free for the client. (other than any expert’s fees) and it is up to the professional to settle the bill. This is why, in the interests of neutrality, the EU directive requires that a mediator be named for a period of at least three years.

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