Tenants could get guidance on debt and welfare benefits before eviction or repossession court hearings as part of new proposals being considered by the government.

It has launched a consultation into a new approach to delivering legal aid that would provide holistic advice to those most in need.

The current Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme, which offers free on-the-day legal advice to anyone in danger of being evicted or having their property repossessed, would become the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service, incorporating both the existing service and representation at court but also early legal advice before court.

Key changes

Other key changes include contracts for individual courts rather than larger geographical areas and allowing providers to claim for the court duty fee in addition to a legal help fee for follow on work.

Some of the proposals were part of an abandoned consultation due to the Covid pandemic which been well-received by legal aid providers and other stakeholders, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Non-means tested

The Law Society of England and Wales says it would welcome non-means tested legal advice for those facing repossession to be available prior to court hearings and for that advice to include guidance on welfare benefits and debt.

Lubna shuja

However, vice president Lubna Shuja (pictured) adds: “There are serious sustainability issues in legal aid housing, as proven by the extent of the housing legal aid deserts. Those facing repossession will not be able to access vital legal advice if there is no provider in their area. Considerable investment is still needed to tackle these issues.”

The eight-week consultation ends on 20th January.

11 COMMENTS

  1. That all sounds great. I presume they will also offer non means tested free legal advice & representation in court for Landlords too.
    No? Well that would be just too fair wouldn’t it?

  2. The whole legal process of eviction is bias to the tenant. It’s about time that our legal system gives more support to landlords who have reduced/no income because tenants are not paying rent as agreed.

  3. So the govt use my taxes to allow tenants to fight me in court… Totally wrong headed approach and will doubtless accelerate the departure of investors from the PRS when coupled with EPC regulations etc etc.

    We are heading headlong into the 1970’s when the PRS was simply a no-go area for any sensible investor.

    • Why would you worry if you’ve got a non defendable case? This is for the landlords who think it fit to carry out no repairs and to bully tenants. If you have done no wrong, you’ll be fine! Protect deposits, comply with the law and issue correct court paperwork. It’s not rocket science!

  4. We have a massively discriminatory legal system despite a liberal left political bias which claims to desire equality. The law puts tenants above landlords, ethnic minorities above white British, homosexuals, transsexuals and any other odd form of sexuals above heterosexuals, as well as women above men. White, able bodied, heterosexual landlords are right at the bottom of the legal inequality table! This initiative might not be so bad if tenants are advised to comply with their contracts, but they probably will instead be advised how to play the legal system, a bit like when local authorities advised tenants not to comply with legal court orders to follow supposedly legally binding contracts to leave when evicted until the bailiffs turn up (now illegal, but I suspect it still happens).

    • Lol….well put! Trouble is, it’s the white middle aged man that made this country?

      I’m still waiting for the day I sign on here and there’s news of the powers that be are helping the landlords lol

  5. Most LL evict for rent defaulting.
    Hardly disputable!!

    The rent either has or hasn’t been paid.

    45 days with out any Court action required which includes 2 missed monthly rent payments and 14 days NTQ will eradicate most repossession Court cases.

    Most evictions are ENTIRELY FAULT BASED.

    Rent defaulting repossessions should never go to Court.

    But if Court action for rent defaulting is still required LL should receive the same legal aid that the tenant does.

    Councils should be forced by law to provide alternative accommodation at the expiry of a S21.

    • It seems that councils are now responsible. I read the following recently in a trade magazine. I hope it is true. Spread the word.

      “Frequently, the local authority will not intervene with housing advise to the tenants until a warrant of execution (eviction by the bailiff) has been issued or is about to be carried out…………A recent Local Authority Ombudsman case (Brentwood Borough Council ref 20 002 688) should be a reminder to councils that this stance by the local authority is unlawful and that they could be liable to pay the landlord compensation for the lost rent and wasted costs. There is a statutory code ‘Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities’ which they are required to follow………….Where the local authority does not follow the statutory code, landlords can apply to the Local Government Ombudsman who have the power to order a local authority to provide financial compensation to a landlord who has suffered loss as a result of the local authorities actions..”

  6. Very few Landlords will even consider evicting good tenants.
    It is – in the main – only tenants who either fail to pay their rent and accrue levels of debt or tenants who act in an anti-social manner who have anything to fear.
    As a Landlord of over 26 years much of which has included working with the homeless sector and the probation service I have experienced both facets – that said, most tenants from these sectors are fine.
    I have also, as a result of the stated criteria, had need to evict tenants in the past, however this has not been undertaken without my attempting to work with the tenants in a bid to try to help them resolve whatever issues there are. Unfortunately some do not deserve such understanding, indeed they are lacking in any comprehension of their responsibilities.
    Additionally one factor that is common for all such “rogue tenants” is that they are incredibility good liars, even if you clearly demonstrate they are doing so and it is they who would use any new legal facilities in a bid to discredit a landlord even if – as in my case – the landlord has bent over backwards to help.
    My advice to all Landlords is to keep a very good record of any and all events and actions, including your responses in readiness for the excessively liberalistic – indeed unrealistic/idealistic – legal system that may be put in place.
    Along with several others commenting, Paul B has made several good and valid points but sadly, no one will ever listen to Landlords (Landlord associations are meant to meet with Government advisers but they achieve absolutely nothing because the impositions grow year by year, individual Landlords need to make their feelings heard by contacting the given Minister via their own local MP) – it doesn’t matter whatever party is “in power”.
    Either that or, do as I have just started to do – as a direct result of the ever increasing impositions made on Landlords – and sell your properties.

    • Yep selling up is the only logical conclusion.

      LL have lost the war.
      Time to admit defeat and try and get out of the game for as much profit as possible.

      Maybe just have one mortgage free property.

      Forget the power of leverage………..that only works when you have rent paying tenants

      Something that is rarely mentioned.

      The more difficult to obtain repossession the less viable the business model.

      Being mortgage free does at least provide a certain degree of financial resilience in the event of feckless rent defaulting tenants.

      50% of the PRS is mortgage free.

      So for those LL they are better able to cope with rent defaulting tenants.

      It is the other leveraged 50% of the PRS that is most at risk from the dysfunctional repossession system.

      For LL with multiple mortgaged properties it makes far more sense to reduce where possible to mortgage fred properties.

      It makes sense to get rid of the properties that aren’t currently. EPC C status.

      It is time for LL to start thinning out the deadwood to hopefully leave fully resilient properties that won’t suffer from rent defaulting tenants with long eviction periods.

      For many LL they have avoided being bankrupted as a result of the eviction ban.

      Many LL will be considering their position in light of all the attacks and those coming soon from the Govt on the PRS

      In short as you suggest time to bail!!

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