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Using alternative dispute resolution to solve housing problems

Alternative dispute resolution is usually a cheaper, faster and more informal way to resolve a housing dispute without going to court.

There are different types of alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation.

What is alternative dispute resolution

Alternative dispute resolution is a voluntary process that can help you resolve a housing dispute.

It can often replace court. If not, it can be used to help you before your court date.

You could use alternative dispute resolution for:

  • antisocial neighbours

  • splitting up with your partner

  • disagreements with your council or housing association

It might not be suitable for emergency situations like domestic abuse. If you’re not sure if alternative dispute resolution is right for you, contact a solicitor for advice.

The Scottish Government has more information about resolving disputes without going to court.


Arbitration is when an independent professional makes a decision to resolve your dispute.

They do this by hearing both sides of the dispute and looking at any evidence.

The decision that’s made is legally binding.

Paying for arbitration

Some arbitrators are free and some have a cost. You could get the cost back if you win the dispute.

Contact the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators for help finding an arbitrator.


A mediator is an independent professional who helps you and the other person in your dispute find the best solution to your problem.

The mediator does not decide any of the terms in the agreement you make.

The decision is only legally binding if both sides sign the agreement.

Find mediation services on the Scottish Mediation website.

Paying for mediation

You might need to pay for mediation. If you cannot afford it, look for a mediator who accepts legal aid. This could cover some or all of the costs.

Last updated: 18 March 2022

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England