Mediating neighbour disputes can save time, money: Rose

By Kirsten McMahon, Managing Editor

In the first instalment of a three-part series on the benefits of mediation in disputes where there are ongoing relationships that need to be managed quickly and inexpensively, Toronto mediator and settlement counsel Mitchell Rose focuses on neighbours.

Conflicts between neighbours are well-suited for mediation to resolve the immediate issues as well as teach the parties how to communicate with each other going forward, says Toronto mediator and settlement counsel Mitchell Rose.

“It’s not realistic or feasible for either party to pick up and move,” says Rose, principal of Mitchell Rose Professional Corporation. “Even if they resolve the problem, they are going to have to communicate in relation to the resolution of that issue or any other conflicts that may arise.”

He tells that common conflicts include overgrown trees, boundary and fence disputes, and excessive noise. Rose says he typically mediates these types of disputes after lawyers are involved and/or a lawsuit is commenced.

“Occasionally neighbours will agree to seek out a mediator on their own, but that’s more of an exception,” Rose says, “which is a shame because, through mediation, they can save grief, money and time.”

Mediation allows parties to do something constructive about the situation, and it gives people the opportunity to be heard, he notes.

“It’s not always possible to get your day in court nor is it necessarily desirable because of the cost,” Rose says. “I can provide the opportunity for somebody to be listened to and actually work on a solution together.”

He says there are often emotions bubbling above and below the surface, so mediation gives parties a chance to air these grievances in a safe space.

“One neighbour may feel like they’re met with hostility from the other,” Rose says. “Sometimes that’s true, but often it’s just different communication styles. Mediation can help ease tensions, address the immediate problem and figure out how parties will communicate on a go-forward basis.”

Tempting as it may be to act passive-aggressively toward the offending neighbour or take to social media to complain, Rose warns this behaviour isn’t useful and can cause an already tense situation to spiral out of control.

He notes that while it’s easy to get emotional over neighbour disputes, these everyday issues are part and parcel of living next to someone.

“I think it takes a very patient person to overlook many of the problems that come with living next door to somebody,” Rose says. “It’s inevitable that there’s going to be some kind of potential conflict, so learning how to communicate will save aggravation in the future.”

Stay tuned for part two where Rose will discuss mediating employment disputes.

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