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    1st December 2021

    Improved Legal Advice Could be Made Available to Tenants Facing Eviction

    New proposal could see tenants facing eviction provided ‘on-the-day’ legal advice from the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme as part of a shake-up that could see it rebranded to prevent needless evictions.

    While met with scepticism in some corners of the rental industry, the benefits of early intervention in the case of rental arrears and financial problems are well established – including in a meta-analysis of peer reviewed studies.

    With homelessness impacting more than 200,000 people in England alone, and post-pandemic evictions still rising, central government is conducting a consultation (set to end on the  20th January 2022) on a proposed new model for delivering housing possession legal aid.

    What the consultation is about

    Aiming to preserve and broaden the ability for tenants to receive housing possession legal aid, the consultation is seeking to address the sustainability of the scheme. Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Lord Wolfson of Tredegar QC outlines the consultation as follows:

    A core element of the support available in this area is, and will remain to be, access to publicly funded legal advice and representation. The Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme offers vital emergency face-to-face advice and advocacy to anyone facing possession proceedings. Providers of this service do vital work every day to ensure anyone in danger of eviction or having their property repossessed can get free legal advice and representation on the day of their hearing, regardless of their financial circumstances.

    However, we know that the sustainability of the schemes is an issue and we have been considering the way forward, engaging closely with stakeholders to better understand their concerns and to ensure that the scheme is fully aligned with our modern justice system, ensuring people can resolve their legal issues as swiftly as possible.

    This consultation sets out an ambitious new model for delivering these services, which will be more financially viable for the providers who deliver it and more effective for the clients who rely on it, ensuring they can access high quality support as early in the process as possible.

    The key proposals in the consultation are:

    • Allowing providers to claim for the court duty fee in addition to a Legal Help fee.
    • Contracts to shift from larger geographical areas to individual courts.
    • Expanding the legal aid HLPAS providers can offer to individuals facing procession proceedings.
    • Remodelling and rebranding the current scheme, incorporating the existing service and adding early legal advice before court, become a new Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service (HLPAS).
    • The introduction of a set attendance fee for all schemes, replacing the existing nil session payment.

    The consultation has received provisional backing from The Law Society of England and Wales, and Society President I. Stephanie Boyce has stated:

    While having the option of additional advice on welfare benefits and debt is an added bonus.  We cannot underestimate the value of early legal advice as it can help address problems before they escalate, preventing cases from going to court unnecessarily.


    Legal advice must be available to all tenants facing the loss of their homes, particularly when homelessness is a likely outcome. We welcome these proposals but are concerned that the scheme cannot function if the lack of legal aid providers is not addressed.

    What this means for Wirral landlords

    While the tightening of rules around eviction were met with disappointment and frustration by landlords, there’s little evidence to suggest it has been a major barrier to eviction since the changes were introduced. There are also no suggestions in the consultation documents that would indicate it is intended to make the process any more difficult – instead it seeks to reduce the need for eviction.

    With earlier interventions, the consultation is aiming to tackle the root cause of eviction through earlier intervention and, therefore, should be a net positive for landlords who could – depending on the outcome of the consultation – find themselves needing to apply to courts less often for repossession of their property.

    What this means for Wirral tenants

    At this point, there is no further assistance for tenants – however, the consultation hopes to combat a growing eviction and homelessness problem through the provision of early intervention. For most tenants – as with the Law Society – this is a promising start but will need further augmenting to be most effective. While legal advice is useful, it fails to address the root problem of many evictions and needs to add social intervention and debt advice before it can genuinely be considered a step forward for tenants.

    Want help keeping up-to-date with ever-changing legislation, to find your new home or manage your property portfolio? Contact Us to find out how our experts can help.

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