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Free legal aid for tenants may make evictions too costly

The new Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service kicks in tomorrow - it offers early legal advice, free of charge, to anyone at risk of possession proceedings and loss of their home.

Advice can be provided in relation to Housing, Debt and Welfare Benefits issues, and this assistance includes so-called ’In Court Duty’ on-the-day emergency advice and advocacy to anyone facing possession proceedings.

Under the new scheme, the Legal Aid Agency is extending court duty scheme work to include early legal advice on housing, welfare benefits and debt from the moment a landlord or lender issues a notice to repossess. This is non-means and non-merits tested.


A government statement says: “The service enables anyone at risk of losing their home or facing possession proceedings to get free legal advice, and representation in court, regardless of their financial circumstances.”

Private and social housing tenants, owner occupiers, leaseholders and those with shared ownership, immaterial of the reasons why they are facing losing their home, can access the service, providing they have written evidence of a risk of possession proceedings or loss of their home.

Examples of written evidence include a letter or notice from a landlord where an informal licence exists; notice to quit from a landlord where a renting arrangement lacks the security of tenure; letter before action as required by the Pre-Action Protocol For Possession Claims based on Home Purchase Plan Arrears in Respect of Residential Property; notice seeking possession served by a landlord; and a letter from the court notifying the Client that possession proceedings have been issued.

A list of providers who can deliver Housing Loss Prevention Advice Services from tomorrow can be found on the Gov.Uk site.

The Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service replaces the Housing Possession Court Duty Service which only offered ‘on the day’ emergency advice and advocacy.

The fear amongst some landlord and property professional bodies is that the risk of potentially losing expensive and long-winded court cases may deter landlords from seeking repossession.

You can find out more about the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service here.

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  • icon

    Another reason to not rent your property without Section 21.

    More tax payers money p’d up the wall here. It’s not even ‘merits-tested’ so lots of slimy legal aid lawyers will be taking on any case going adding to the risk you have to pick up their fees. Even if you should win, silly woke judges will be ruling on anything they can against a landlord.

    If you get served notice to get out then get out. Whose properties are they? They are not the MPs’, ‘charities’ or the tenants at all but they have almost complete control between them.


    Your response is the natural one Nick. As soon as landlords can see that there will be more difficulties in regaining control of their properties, they are likely to serve Section 21 notices to get them back - to get back control now. Property represents a huge investment of money - and that money can be invested more safely elsewhere - anywhere elsewhere.


    Even under the mattress appears more safe at the moment. I'd rather take my chance with burglars than Labour, Michael Gove (Labour with a blue tie) and all the other lefties.

    Zoe S

    Completely agree Nick!

    I am in the process of serving a Section 8 for non payment of two months rent.
    My tenant is claiming he is poorly, but his social media contradicts that as he is publicly posting on a daily basis posts of himself abroad partying every night - for the last couple of months!

    Meanwhile I am £5k down in rent, have a mortgage to pay, and now legal/court fees, and I will assume will incur even further expenses for upcoming bailiff costs to have him evicted. Not forgetting the void period and refurb costs to reinstate the house back to a rentable state.

    The whole process will more than likely exceed 6 months with the back log at court.

    Where is the protection for the landlords against tenants abusing the system like this?

    Admittedly there are rogue landlords out there, but equally there are also “rogue” tenants, and therefore both sides should be protected.

    Landlords are running a business, and like any other business require a profit to survive. Why are other businesses allowed to make a gain, yet landlords renting their properties are not?

    Why are all tenants being treated as the “victims” and now been given free legal aid!

    Renting is a business - Not a charity!

    The in just of it all is so very infuriating!!!

  • Peter Why Do I Bother

    Country is absolutely careering headlong to the bottom.... Everyone who cannot be bothered to do a days work gets it for free and you the taxpayer sponsor them...!

  • icon

    I'm all for fairness in how we deal with people, but going forward, landlords will do whatever it takes to protect themselves. If that means investing their money in a less hostile environment, then that's what will happen. For my part, these days I insist on tenants proving that they are responsible and are unlikely to cause any problems. Good luck to all the ones we used to take a gamble on!

  • icon

    Another f in goody goody body all for the tenant. What about a body for us PLLords. Oh the NRLA . Don’t think they are standing up for us much. Although they do have a great deal of anti bodies to fight against .


    So, what will the NRLA do/say about this latest move designed to reinforce Gov’s poorly hidden policy of PRS sequestration? Nothing useful i am sure.
    The section 21’s are piling up on my desk

  • icon

    And so the never ending kicking of landlords continues..... I read these posts daily and have yet to read anything that would encourage me to continue being a landlord.... It's not gong to change, but it will definitely get worse, especially here in Scotland... and for that reason... I'm out!!!

  • icon

    😂 The government are desperate 🆘🆘 they will do anything to disguise their lack of house building since time began 🤐 and people wonder why we are selling up fast.


    Yep, and this is why Gov are influencing policies that effectively ‘lock in landlords’. De facto sequestration of the PRS is well underway.

  • icon

    This is something I'm going to build onto all new tenants rent, my own legal aid fund


    But how much is enough?

    You should also add in their compensation for moving costs. They talk about 2 months. But why should you stop at that?


    Only snag with that approach is, in the past, the tenants had the right to apply to a body (can't remember which one - it was about forty or so years ago) in order to have the rents reduced significantly.

    And I fear that Nick is right that once we have the sitting tenants then their rights will be increased by further legislation.


    I believe that when the tenant applied for a rent reduction the rent to be paid was calculated by a rent officer. It was not set by the landlord. The rent was below the market rents.

    Once the rent was registered by the rent officer it became the legal maximum that could be charged for the tenancy.

    I believe that the tenants were then entitled to any overpaid rent that they had paid before the rent officer made the assessment.

  • icon

    I guess this puts shelter out of business.

  • Des Mond

    I have some houses in a deprived area where PRS ownership predominates, letting to the more challenging demographic groups. It leaves me wondering what the future holds in such places. Will squeezing the PRS gentrify the area now? I somehow doubt it, but something has to give!

  • icon

    There's a lot of moaning here but lets be honest, if your tenant wins against you in a court of law you're not the good guy.


    No way! There are many people who have been to court, have been in the right but have still lost. Because they couldn't actually prove their case to the required level.

    Judges also make mistakes and bend the rules....

    Peter Why Do I Bother

    Very inappropriate comment to be honest Raine, each circumstance should be viewed individually and with a degree of balance.


    Generally now the courts aren;t fit for purpose, with looney left judges that will always find against the landlord


    That's my big worry Andrew.


    Interesting comment Rainy day!
    When is it winning if the game is rigged. This is why there is moaning as you put it.
    Maybe look at it the other way. If private Landlords leave where will renters rent?

  • icon

    So Gove lied about Landlords having an easier route under Sec 8 if they wanted to move themselves into THEIR property. This is getting far to one-sided.

  • icon

    I am a good landlord, providing a property in good condition, well below the market rent. My tenant currently owes me around £14,000 including 6 months back rent and legal fees yet the law appears to be totally on his side. He knows full well how to play the system and has no intention of ever paying. This is my sole source of income yet I have no rights.


    That is so unfair Emma! Has the tenant left now?


    You could try contacting Advocate. You might be able to obtain free legal help from a barrister. It seems you already have paid for legal help though.

    Zoe S

    Going through the same process myself Emma, ridiculous isn’t it!

  • icon

    Why would Tenants need free legal aid it seems to be an unnecessary cost to the tax payer.
    When Judges & Tribunal’s virtually always Favourers the Tenants but I suppose they must include Lawyers to allow their get some soft money.

  • icon

    In the 32 years, I’ve been a landlord, I have evicted through the courts nearly 400 tenants with 100% success and written a manual on how to do it covering every problem I have had. I only Evict for rent arrears, and only those who wilfully refuse to pay their rent not those who are unable to pay their rent. We work with them. I do not say this to boast, but to reassure other landlords that even though I agree, some judges are very biased and anti landlord, the system works or I’ve just been very lucky. In my area it has always been free legal representation and apart from a few isolated incidents, the duty solicitors help not hinder by clarifying the issues and removing the irrelevant defences that some tenants bring up. Again, tenants having free legal aid it’s not something to worry about if my experience H repeated.

    Sorry Raine losing does not mean having a poor case, the eviction process is bureaucratic and if you do not have the right paperwork or wording, you can have your case dismissed purely on a technicality nothing to do with the tenant, owing or not owing you months of rent.

    Zoe and emma. If you want any help I’m always happy to help a fellow landlord.

    I have recently realised that most of my evictions were unnecessary. A few months ago, one of the councils in the areas I operate in, Sandwell MBC, introduced a call before you serve service CB4YS. What the council do is mediate before the landlord starts the eviction process and instead of telling tenants not to pay the rent and wait until they are evicted, they will be rehoused the council mediator tell my tenants they will be treated as intentionally homeless and refused housing by the council As a result, the first six cases I referred to them I did not have to evict.

    I spoke to a housing officer, who recently moved from another council and they said that the number of tenants presenting as homeless dropped by 80% when that council introduced a similar service. It seems the worry that the courts will be flooded could easily be solved by councils mediating, not inciting tenants not to pay the rent.

    Jim HaliburtonTheHMODaddy


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