HOUSING LEGAL AID
Legal Aid is available for possession claims, homelessness, eviction and unlawful eviction, re- housing, disrepair, judicial review.
1. Possession claims
This includes defending possession proceedings from both public and private landlords
Funding is available for counterclaims, including disrepair counterclaims.
Funding is available regardless of the grounds for possession as long as there is a defence.
Assistance for mortgage repossession cases is also available (but these cases are now classified as ‘debt’ cases and subject to the telephone gateway)
Legal Help is available as soon as possession is being sought, ie. when a notice is served.
Funding is available to assist clients with their homeless applications
Funding is also available for provision of accommodation through community care services and for accommodation for asylum seekers
This includes requesting reviews of negative decisions or requesting reviews of suitability of accommodation
Funding is available for County Court appeals
3. Eviction and unlawful eviction
Funding is available for assistance in setting aside a warrant of eviction
Funding is also available to bring a claim for unlawful eviction
As long as the client falls within the definition of homeless then assistance can be provided in relation to their application for re-housing.
Therefore, funding should be available for anyone living in unsuitable accommodation wanting a transfer as it will not be reasonable for them to occupy their current accommodation and so they will be ‘homeless’.
Where there is a serious risk of harm to the health and safety of a client or their family legal aid is available to pursue a disrepair claim
Funding does not cover any claim for damages in civil proceedings.
Legal Aid is therefore only likely to be suitable for very urgent injunction cases where compensation is minimal.
Legal Help can be used to investigate prosecutions under the Environmental Protection Act but alternative funding will have to be used to take the case to Court.
6. Judicial Review
Funding is available for housing judicial review cases.
Note, however, the coming changes to judicial review – providers will only be guaranteed payment if they are granted permission to bring a claim, payment for cases that settle before this will be at the discretion of the Legal Aid Agency.
7. Other cases
Funding is also available for anti-social behaviour cases and injunctions concerning harassment in the home.
Funding is available for cases no longer in scope where failure to provide funding would breach the applicant’s Convention rights under the ECHR
There have been very few successful applications so far
Funding is only likely to be available in extremely rare circumstances.
Assessments of client’s capital is needed, even where the applicant is in receipt of Income
Support, Income-related JSA or Income-related ESA.
The Legal Help forms contain a checklist for acceptable proof of income
If your client is unable to provide sufficient proof, eg because they are homeless, or particularly vulnerable, you will need to contact the LAA directly to ensure funding can be provided.
Mortgage possession cases are now classed as ‘debt’ cases. If the case is urgent, emergency legal aid can be granted.
If the case is suitable for Legal Help only, the client must contact the telephone gateway who will determine whether the client needs face-to-face advice.