Unless you live in the perfectly utopian condo or co-op (in which case please disclose where), conflict is virtually inevitable. Whether is it a noise complaint or larger issue of governance, disputes between neighbors and board members will arise yet are fortunately resolvable. However, because many communities have a difficult time conciliating conflict, many residents and boards are looking to outside mediation to help negotiate problems more effectively, with less dirty looks and cat fights involved. Organizations such as the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM) focus on promoting mediation along with specific resolution strategies to help solve and mitigate conflicts in not only condo and co-op communities, but also between family members, employees and significant others.
Let's Talk It Out
NAFCM is a national organization based in Mesa, Arizona, that supports and promotes a network of more than 400 local mediation centers. It focuses on providing the latest mediation training, program administration resources, and locating funding. NAFCM also promotes collaborative projects between mediation centers, endorses mediation research, and educates on the benefits and effectiveness of using mediation as opposed to other, more common yet less effective tactics, such as banging on your neighbor's ceiling with a broomstick.
NAFCM was founded in 1994 by a group of individuals who were the executive directors of their local community mediation programs. The aim was to create an overarching organization that would oversee and unite local programs. While mediation was a fairly utilized method at the time, programs were sparse and lacked cohesion and unity.
“It was a pretty isolated field,” says Justin Corbett, executive director at NAFCM. “At the time, [mediators] were looking at a specific tree standing on the street. There wasn't really an organization that was looking at the forest as a whole, how the field of mediation was developing, what sort of resources could be shared with one another.”
Structurally, NAFCM is a member-based organization that does not administer mediation services but instead provides support and resources for local community programs, who are members of NAFCM. These centers offer a wide variety of mediation services for over 100 different types of conflicts, including disagreement in condos and co-ops. All centers are able to assist with housing based conflict but 87% have specific programs tailored toward landlord-tenant disputes and 63% have programming particularly designed for condominiums and HOAs, Corbett says.