I rent my house from a Housing Association. They have served me with a Notice Seeking Possession a while ago and have now issued possession proceedings because of allegations of anti-social behaviour. The Court hearing is in a week’s time. I have nowhere to go and I cannot afford a solicitor.
Whilst there have been cuts, Legal Aid is still available for many housing matters and so long as you qualify financially it may be available in this scenario, or indeed if your landlord was seeking to evict you because of rent arrears. You should seek advice immediately.
Legal Aid is still available to cover advice and representation in possession proceedings and warrants of eviction. It is available to people with private landlords, and to council and housing association tenants.
Your landlord has to follow the correct procedure if they wish to evict you and you should seek advice to check that the notice you were served with is valid. If it is not then you could have a defence to the proceedings. Legal Aid can cover the cost of a solicitor checking your landlord has followed the correct procedure and to represent you in the Court proceedings if there is a defence.
It is very important that you attend the first court hearing. If you do not then the Court is likely to make the possession order your landlord is asking for. We recommend you are legally represented. If you deny the allegations, or if some or all of the allegations are admitted but there are reasons why it would not be reasonable to make a possession order then at that first hearing the Court will set a time table to give you the opportunity to file a formal defence and then file evidence such as statements to support what you say. The Court will then set a date for a trial. Your solicitor can help you by preparing your case and ensuring you are represented at the trial.
If you are evicted and so are made homeless then you should also contact your Local Authority and ask for assistance. The amount of help the Local Authority has to give you will depend on your circumstances and again legal aid can cover the cost of legal advice on your situation and assistance in challenging the Local Authority’s decision in relation to your homelessness application if you think it is wrong.
Please note that this advice was correct at the time of writing. However there may have been changes in the law or procedure since that date. If you are in doubt you should obtain up to date legal advice.