LEGAL EAGLE: When legal aid is available for dealing with housing cases
Legal aid is still available for many types of housing cases, although not all.
There is some confusion about the types of housing matters that can be still dealt with under legal aid and so below we have detailed the types of cases we can still assist people with, so long as they qualify financially :-
If you are at risk of losing your rented home we should be able to assist you. This includes from when you first receive a Notice of Seeking Possession, to being served with possession proceedings which are before the county court, or receiving a warrant of eviction. Normally this has occurred due to rent arrears or another breach of tenancy, such as anti-social behaviour, but legal aid also covers possession being sought under the s21 procedure. Assistance is available for both private rented and public sector tenants. There may also be instances whereby a Possession Order has already been made against you and we can assist in setting the Order aside if there are sufficient grounds.
If you own your home and are at risk of losing ownership of it, for example because of mortgage arrears, you will need to ring the telephone gateway service provided by Civil Legal Advice on 0345 345 4 345 who will assess your case and either assist you themselves or if appropriate refer you to a local legal advisor.
If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness legal aid is available to assist you in respect of homelessness decisions, eligibility and the allocation of accommodation by the Local Authority.
If there is disrepair in your property which is a serious risk of harm to your health or safety or the health or safety of a member of your family, then it is likely that legal aid will be available to assist you to taking action, including court action, to remedy the disrepair, although legal aid is not available to claim compensation for disrepair.
If you have been unlawfully evicted from your property (i.e. if your Landlord has evicted you without following the correct procedures) or there is a reasonably alleged threat of you being unlawfully evicted, then legal aid covers taking action against your Landlord and in some circumstances it may be possible to claim damages from your Landlord and / or obtain an injunction against him / her.
If an application for an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction has been made against you, assistance is available to you in defending the injunction.
If you need legal assistance in respect of these above matters then you should seek legal advice from a local housing specialist with a Legal Aid Agency contract in housing. You can contact Ben Hoare Bell LLP on 0191 565 3112 or email [email protected] Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.