Free legal advice aims to help thousands of people facing eviction each year

Free legal advice aimed at helping tens of thousands of people each year who are at risk of losing their homes has been welcomed by an organisation representing housing associations.

Such support to people facing eviction or their home being repossessed is especially important amid the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the National Housing Federation said.

The Government said the legal support for housing, debt and welfare benefit matters will aid some 38,000 people a year and help with the wider issues people at risk of losing their home can face.

The launch comes less than a week after the latest official Government statistics showed the numbers of households and children in temporary accommodation in England are at record highs.

Some 104,510 households were in temporary accommodation by the end of March – a 25-year high.

The total number of children in this situation is also at the highest level since records for that measure began in 2004 – with 131,370 children living in temporary accommodation as of the end of March this year.

Households needing help from local authorities because they were homeless or threatened with homelessness by March this year rose 5.7% on the same period last year, to 83,240.

There has also been a push for speedier progress of the Renters (Reform) Bill through Parliament, from charities and organisations lamenting the fact the long-awaited Bill had its first reading in May and has no date set for a second.

The Bill promises to abolish Section 21 (no-fault) evictions – which, if passed into law, would deliver on a 2019 Conservative manifesto commitment.

Housing and homelessness charities have previously branded slow progress of the Bill “unacceptable” and accused the Government of “failing renters”.

Homelessness charity Crisis has welcomed the latest Government help, but called for politicians to “work together to address the main issues at hand to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place”.

Francesca Albanese, the charity’s director of policy and social change, said: “With rents and living costs continuing to increase at pace and housing benefit frozen for three years, thousands of people simply cannot afford to keep a roof over their head.

“We urgently need the Renters Reform Bill and investment in housing benefit to protect people at risk of losing their home. Failure to do so will see thousands more households facing the uncertainty of eviction and be at risk of homelessness.”

The free advice announced for people in England and Wales is part of an extra £10 million a year being set aside for housing legal aid, the Ministry of Justice said.

Tenants or homeowners will be entitled to the free advice as soon as they get a written notice from their landlord or mortgage provider, and will also be given legal representation in court, regardless of their financial circumstances, the department said.

Rhys Moore (pictured), from the National Housing Federation, said: “It’s positive to see the Government providing legal support for people facing eviction or repossession which is particularly important in light of the ongoing cost of living crisis.

“Access to advice and support as early as possible is crucial to helping people navigate the legal system at a time of immense stress and difficulty. Alongside this, we welcome the Government’s commitment to end no fault evictions and improve security for people living in private rented homes.”

Minister for housing and homelessness, Felicity Buchan, said: “I want to ensure we are giving households all the help and support they need to stay in their homes.

“That is why we are spending £1 billion through the Homelessness Prevention Grant which can be used to work with landlords to prevent evictions. At the same time our Renters (Reform) Bill will give tenants more security in their homes by abolishing Section-21 ‘no fault’ evictions.

“This new service allows us to go even further and ensure tenants are getting the right legal help and support – all part of our wider work to prevent homelessness before it occurs.”

Further information on the Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service can be found at

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