Legal aid and free legal advice

You may need legal advice and representation if you're going to court because of a housing problem. You may be able to get help paying for this.

What is legal aid?

Legal aid is a scheme which helps with the cost of legal advice and representation in court.

Legal aid can help with your housing situation. It can also cover legal paperwork and representation in court.

Legal advice is available by telephone, email or face-to-face.

Whether you get help depends on your financial situation and the type of case. You may have to pay something towards your legal costs.

Legal aid advice is provided by Shelter, Citizen's Advice, Law Centres and legal aid solicitors.

Who can get legal aid?

You can only get legal aid if all of the following apply:

  • you have a low income or receive certain benefits
  • you don't have much money in savings, investments or property (in November 2016, the savings limit was £8,000)
  • your housing issue is covered by legal aid
  • you have a good chance of winning the case

Use the legal aid eligibility calculator to check if you are eligible for legal aid.

What legal aid can help with

Legal aid is only available for specific types of case, for example if:

How to apply for legal aid

To apply for legal aid:

When you call Civil Legal Advice, you are asked questions to see if you are eligible. You are then allocated to an adviser. You can ask to be put through to a Shelter adviser if you want.

What to do if you are not eligible for legal aid

There are a number of organisations that provide free legal advice, such as Shelter, Citizen's Advice and Law Centres.

Use our advice services directory to find your nearest Shelter or Citizen's Advice.

Law Centres provide free legal advice for local people who cannot afford it.

Find your nearest Law Centre.

Free help from lawyers

Some solicitors offer their services free of charge to people who can't get legal aid and can't afford to pay for legal help. This is called 'pro bono' work.

LawWorks provides free legal help from solicitors.

The Bar Pro Bono Unit provides free legal help and representations in court and tribunal cases from volunteer barristers. You need to be referred for help from a solicitor or advice service.

What is the difference between a lawyer, solicitor and barrister?

A lawyer is the general term for either a solicitor or a barrister.

A solicitor is usually the first person that a member of the public will go to with a legal problem. They will advise and represent a client in a county court. A solicitor might involve a barrister if the case is very complex or if the client needs representation in a higher court.

Further help and advice

Find out more from Advice Now about going to court.

Last updated 02 Jan 2014 | © Shelter

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