Javier had rented a house from Rick for the past four years. During that time he had been a good tenant, paying his rent on time, and even doing little things here and there to keep the place up. Recently, however, Javier had lost his job and his wife was only working part time, so money was really tight. With three children at home, they had to make some tough decisions and had fallen a few months behind on rent.
Rick had been a landlord for about 30 years. It's how he made his living. Over time he had accumulated several properties but was now getting older and in the process of downsizing. His daughter had recently gotten married to a man named Kyle, and Rick had given them one of the properties to manage as a wedding present. However, there had been a few incidents of property damage and folks missing their rent obligations, so Rick had decided to step in and show Kyle how to evict someone. Unfortunately, that person was Javier.
Through the conversation, the mediator found out that while Kyle's position was that Javier had to leave, and Javier's position was that he needed more time (and money) to find a new place to take his family, there were some underlying interests for both of them that led to a better outcome.
Javier mentioned that some of the people who had caused problems in the building were Latino, and he didn't want to be lumped in with that group just because he was as well. He was embarrassed about falling behind in the rent, but was a little angry because he felt like Kyle and Rick may have stereotyped him because of others. He had recently gotten a new job and could afford to pay the rent again, plus a little extra to make up the back rent, but he wasn't sure he wanted to stay at this place if the landlords were going to discriminate.
Rick's perspective was that he was actually sorry to see Javier go, because he had always been a good tenant, but he was concerned that if income from the building didn't improve, Kyle and his daughter may end up losing the building and the head start he had given them through his hard work. He was also interested in Kyle learning how to manage the property on his own since he was getting older, and knowing how to evict someone was an important part of that.
For Kyle's part, he wanted to prove to his father-in-law that he was capable of managing the property and taking care of his own family.
With the help of the mediator, these three men were able to move beyond their positions and assumptions and see each other as people trying to do the best they could for themselves and their families. Once it became clear that they each felt bad about the situation and were really interested in finding a positive solution, they were able to come to an agreement.
Javier would stay and pay down the back rent over about six months. That would allow him and his family to keep their housing and avoid the stigma of eviction. It would also provide enough income for Kyle to stay ahead of the mortgage payments on the building and create a solution that put less stress on his relationship with Rick. Rick was able to achieve his goal of showing Kyle how the process worked and keep a good tenant while avoiding the appearance of being a discriminatory landlord.
In the end, the agreement met all the underlying interests of the parties and was an outcome they never would've gotten going to trial in front of a judge who would have to decide in stark terms if Javier's family would simply have to go or stay.