Legal aid and free legal advice

Find out how to get free legal advice and representation for housing problems including eviction and homelessness.

Legal help with housing problems

You should always check if you can get legal help if you have an urgent housing problem.

For example, if you’re being evicted or need to challenge a homelessness decision by the council.

Depending on your situation, you may be able to get help from:

  • a legal aid caseworker or solicitor
  • a duty adviser if you’ve been taken to court

If you can’t get help through legal aid, there may be other options. For example, a solicitor might help you take your landlord to court under a conditional fee agreement.

Help through legal aid

You may be able to get free advice and representation through legal aid if:

  • you’ve been given a notice
  • your landlord or lender has taken you to court
  • you’ve been threatened with illegal eviction
  • your home is in very serious disrepair
  • you need to challenge a decision the council made on a homeless application

Who can get legal aid

You can get help from legal aid if you're on a low income.

You must have no savings or savings below £8000.

You usually qualify automatically if you get: 

  • universal credit
  • income support
  • income based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)
  • income related employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • pension credit guarantee 

You may still be able to get legal aid if you don't get these benefits. You'll have to provide proof of income, such as payslips.

You won’t normally qualify if your total monthly income before tax is over £2657.

Check if you can get legal aid on GOV.UK

How to get help through legal aid

Shelter may be able to provide advice and representation through one of our local hubs.

Search for a local service to see if we can help.

Other organisations that provide help through legal aid include:

You can find a full list of legal aid providers on GOV.UK.

Some advice agencies will give free advice even if you don't qualify for legal aid.

Civil Legal Advice

Civil Legal Advice is a service that provides advice through legal aid over the phone. 

They can refer you to a local service if needed. For example, if you need representation at court.

You can contact Civil Legal Advice on 03453454345.

Ask them to call you back if you can’t afford the call.

Help at court from a duty adviser

Most county courts have legal advisers or solicitors available at the times when possession hearings are scheduled. This is called a court duty scheme.

A duty adviser can help if your landlord, council, housing association or lender is taking court action to evict you. They can give advice and speak on your behalf.

You can get free legal help from the scheme regardless of how much you earn.

How to get help from a duty adviser

If you have a review date you can get advice on the day. You don’t have to go to court, but the notice of review will tell you how to get in touch with the duty adviser by phone.

If you have a possession hearing, then you can get advice and representation from a duty adviser at court.

You can still get help from a duty adviser if you have a phone or video hearing. The notice of possession hearing should tell how you to do this.

Other ways to get legal help

If you aren't able to get legal help Advice Now have information about going to court without a lawyer.

Other options include getting a case taken on through a conditional fee agreement or getting free advice from a legal clinic.

Conditional fee agreements

A conditional fee agreement is where a solicitor takes on your case as ‘no win no fee’.

A solicitor may offer this if you're claiming compensation from your landlord. For example, for disrepair or because your deposit wasn’t protected.

If you win, you pay your solicitor's fees from your compensation.

If you lose, you won't have to pay your solicitor but you could be ordered to pay your landlord's costs. You may be able to get insurance cover for this.  

Check the conditional fee agreement carefully before you sign and ask the solicitor to explain any fees you might have to pay.

Legal advice clinics

Legal advice clinics can sometimes give advice on housing problems. 

Advice is often provided by law students under the supervision of a solicitor.

Search for a legal advice clinic on LawWorks


Last updated 16 October 2020 | © Shelter

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