ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The state has frozen most evictions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Wednesday, the Bernalillo County Metro Court announced they will help people involved in landlord-tenant disputes. With a new free mediation program that will launch next week. 

Judge Frank Sedillo who helped spearhead the program said it could be a real game-changer and will certainly benefit both parties involved. 

“What we’re hoping to do is help landlords and tenants resolve their disputes so that after the emergency is over that the tenants will be able to stay on the property longer and the landlords will hopefully be able to work out some payment arrangement,” said Sedillo.  

The state supreme court issued a temporary ban on orders to forcibly remove tenants back in March. However, those people will have to prove they’re unable to pay due to the pandemic. 

Sedillo said those tenants who prove they can’t make rent are the ones allowed to use the new free mediation program. He said landlords haven’t been filing as many evictions during the pandemic. He said the metro court has between 100 and 150 landlord-tenant cases cued up when the program launches next week. 

“Hoping that landlords are going to be reasonable with regards to trying to work out these payment arrangements,” said Sedillo. “We also understand the responsibility of the tenant. They do have to make payments, if they have funds available they should be making some payment.”   

Sedillo said they have ten to 12 mediators who are former judges and attorneys that will help with the program. The state’s supreme court order does not protect tenants being evicted for other reasons, like damaged property, broken leases or criminal activity on the property.

The program is slated to get off the ground on May 11. Those interested in participating in the Landlord-Tenant Settlement Program or serving as a volunteer settlement facilitator are asked to contact the court’s Mediation Division at 505-841-8167.