Jessica moved into her apartment last December with her husband and two kids. One of the reasons she chose the apartment was because she found Javier, from the property management team, to be very friendly. Jessica’s neighbor called the police about the noise from her apartment on three occasions in the first few months.
After the third noise complaint, Jessica was served with a ten-day notice saying that she was in violation of the health and safety standards of her lease and would have to find a new place to live. Lucy was the member of the property management team to serve Jessica. Jessica told Lucy that she was six months pregnant and that she was not in a position to move. The two women were not able to resolve things and eventually Lucy’s company filed an eviction case against Jessica. When the case was in court the judge referred them to mediation.
From the start of the mediation, it was clear that Jessica and Lucy were very angry with one another. While Jessica had experienced a good relationship with Javier, she and Lucy had only had difficult conversations related to the noise complaints and the pending eviction. Jessica felt that Lucy had not listened to her concerns that the complaining neighbors were just trying to get her evicted. Jessica was upset that Lucy had appeared in court, since Javier had seemed much more concerned about her well-being.
During the mediation, the mediator asked them about their previous communications and learned that Jessica and Lucy had never had a positive interaction. The mediator asked them both to discuss ways their communications might have been more productive. Jessica said that she wanted Lucy to be more empathetic when providing the notice and felt that Lucy had not heard her side of the story. Lucy said she did not know what else to say, since she was simply enforcing a standard policy about noise complaints.
This led to a discussion about the responsibilities of the property manager – to enforce rules and to care for the tenants. The mediator asked Lucy why she became a property manager and she said she had done so to get a job to provide for her family. Jessica shared that she had also just made a big career shift for the same reason. This common ground softened both parties a bit and they were able to keep speaking. Eventually, both Jessica and Lucy apologized to the other for their behavior in their previous interactions. Jessica wanted to be a good tenant and neighbor and Lucy wanted to create an environment where tenants would feel cared for.
The mediator inquired about a plan moving forward and Lucy and Jessica agreed it would be best for Jessica to move somewhere where she felt more welcomed by her neighbors. Lucy apologized about her experience in the community and said she hoped Jessica would find somewhere more welcoming. Jessica agreed that she would try to keep the noise down until she moved, but Lucy and Jessica both agreed that they would have a better relationship from this point on. The parties left the mediation prepared to clearly communicate moving forward.