Free legal advice for people at risk of losing their homes
The government has launched a scheme to provide free legal advice to people facing eviction or repossession.
On 1 August the government announced plans to provide expert legal advice free of charge to help people keep their homes and avoid lengthy, costly court proceedings.
In a press release, the government said that advice will be available from the moment a written notice is received by a tenant or homeowner, which could be in the form of an email from a landlord or letter from a mortgage provider. They will also be able to have legal representation in court, regardless of their financial circumstances.
The press release said:
“Legal support for housing, debt and welfare benefit matters will help with the wider issues individuals at risk of losing their home may face. It is part of an extra £10 million a year being pumped into housing legal aid by the government.
“This wrap-around care is expected to help tens of thousands of families a year to keep their homes, improve their finances and gain access to support to improve their health and life prospects.”
Justice Minister Lord Bellamy said: “Having access to the right legal advice at the earliest point possible is crucial for those who face losing their home, to ensure they have the support and help they need.
“We are creating this new service so that fewer people lose their home and can get help with their finances and resolve issues before they escalate.”
While the aim of the scheme is to provide upfront and timely advice to avoid matters reaching court, government-funded legal representation will also be provided on the day of hearings for cases that do proceed to court.
The Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Felicity Buchan, said: “I want to ensure we are giving households all the help and support they need to stay in their homes. That is why we are spending £1 billion through the Homelessness Prevention Grant which can be used to work with landlords to prevent evictions. At the same time our Renters (Reform) Bill will give tenants more security in their homes by abolishing Section-21 ‘no fault’ evictions.
“This new service allows us to go even further and ensure tenants are getting the right legal help and support – all part of our wider work to prevent homelessness before it occurs. Funding legal support in the early stages of a housing dispute, also helps to reduce the volume of cases going through the courts, freeing up crucial judicial capacity as well as time and money for those involved.”