August 1, 2022
NYC’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) has a free mediation program, Mediating Establishment and Neighborhood Disputes (MEND).
This program’s purpose is to establish healthy, friendly, and positive relationships between communities and small businesses.
This is a confidential and voluntary service that provides a mediator aimed to design creative and restorative solutions to disputes. Participants, of course, control the outcome and the mediator’s role is to facilitate and aid the parties in creating their own solutions. In that way, parties can resolve disputes efficiently with help from mediators.
MEND is not limited to conflicts between residents of communities and businesses, but also between commercial tenants and landlords, as well as business to business disputes. The mediation process for commercial tenants and landlords is to directly design resolutions before lawyers are engaged. Some of the services include: resolutions over past due rent, rent payments, and removal of lease terms. For disagreements among businesses in the same area, such as use of space, crowd, or garbage, MEND could be the neutral third party that could help determine possible solutions.
However, there are situations where MEND is not applicable or appropriate, and this includes: conflicts between two residents or neighbors, parties already engaged in adversarial or formal litigation process, landlord and commercial tenants already engaged in litigation or court process, and if a small business is looking for a commercial lease review or legal assistance.
Additionally, participation in the MEND program does not remove any debts, fines, or summons already issued by OATH in regards to complaints from residents. Businesses can always feel free to contact MENDNYC@oath.nyc.gov to see if MEND is applicable to their situations.
The MEND program is completely optional and voluntary for both parties. If one party does not comply or consent, the mediation will not occur. Currently, all mediations are conducted remotely.