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Free Housing Advice Scheme Begins

Free Housing Advice Scheme Begins

From the start of August 2023, a revamped legal advice and representation scheme has been launched by the Government, as part of its committing an additional £10 million of annual funding towards housing legal aid.

The scheme intends for a publicly-funded legal advisor to become involved in advising a client at an earlier stage, rather than providing representation for them at the Court hearing once proceedings have been issued and listed for hearing. Whether this change in emphasis results in fewer hearings overall, or fewer claims for possession being issued, remains to be seen.

Titled the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service, the scheme is available to anybody facing potential possession action regarding their rented or mortgaged property. Eligibility for the scheme's assistance begins as soon as notice is received from the prospective claimant in proceedings - for instance, a notice, letter or email from a landlord or a mortgage lender. It is estimated that the scheme will be open to roughly 38,000 people per year.

The scheme is intended to mitigate the effects of the current pressures surrounding cost of living; there has, for instance, been wide reporting of landlords increasing their rents in order to cover higher costs, of mortgage borrowing and other outlays. It is intended to work in tandem with the Renters' Reform Bill which is currently making its way through Parliament. A headline reform proposed in that draft legislation is the abolition of so-called 'no fault' evictions based on s.21 of the Housing Act 1988.

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