Can I Get Free Housing Legal Advice?
Whether you qualify for free housing legal advice under the Government’s legal help or legal aid scheme will depend on the following 3 things
- Firstly your legal problem must be covered by the relevant Act which allows for the provision of legal aid; this is the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2021. This Act covers free legal advice for:
- Possession if your landlord has served you with notice;
- Eviction if your landlord has already obtained an order for possession and is now applying to the court to evict you;
- Protection from Harassment and/or Unlawful Eviction where your landlord is harassing you including threatening to change the locks or has already changed the locks;
- Disrepair if this poses a serious risk of harm to your health and safety or to the health and safety of those you live with;
- Homelessness if you wish to challenge a decision made by the council on your homelessness application including decisions regarding offers of interim or temporary accommodation;
- Anti-social behaviour if your landlord is applying for an injunction against you in relation to alleged anti-social behaviour in connection with your home.
2. Secondly you must qualify financially. The current rules on financial eligibility are contained with the Legal Aid Agency’s keycard 58 – April 2022 which can be found at: Eligibility Keycard
The financial test involves an assessment of your income and capital and in order to qualify your income and capital must not exceed the stated limits. However if you are in receipt, whether directly or indirectly, of a qualifying benefit such as Income Support, Income Based Job Seeker’s Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Guarantee Credit or Universal Credit you will automatically satisfy the income tests however an assessment of your capital is still required. Working out whether you qualify financially is complicated and therefore it is best to approach a legal aid housing provider and request they carry this out on your behalf.
3. Thirdly your legal problem must satisfy the merits test. Under legal help this is referred to as the sufficient benefit test. This is a test of whether a reasonable paying private individual of moderate means would pay for the legal advice and assistance.
As you can see it is not straightforward to work out whether you will qualify for free housing legal advice. If you are unsure whether you qualify for free legal help or legal aid for your housing problem you should speak to a housing solicitor who does legal aid work. We at Hodge Jones & Allen regularly represent clients under legal help and legal aid and achieve positive results for them.