Law Society calls for more Legal Aid help to tenants facing eviction

The legal industry says the end of the eviction ban must be the moment to ensure the widest number of tenants across the country have “access to justice.”

The Law Society of England and Wales says there is a need for wider reform.

“Possession proceedings must be made more workable in anticipation of the huge increase in cases, the established backlog and the difficult circumstances facing landlords and tenants” according to Law Society president Simon Davis

“However, in order to protect vulnerable tenants it is vital that legal advice is available to all tenants.”

He says changes to the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme – processes undertaken for possession – do not go far enough in ensuring all tenants are afforded legal protections.

And he adds that “Legal Aid deserts persist in Cornwall and Telford” with the industry concerned about the sustainability of the scheme.

Davis continues: “It is unacceptable that, in the face of a pandemic and difficult economic prospects, tenants are being left without representation during possession proceedings.

“The changes to the possessions procedures are a positive step, but they cannot replace legal advice in achieving access to justice. More needs to be done by government departments to support tenants at this time, to prevent them losing their homes and to stop an increase in homelessness

“They will also have a limited impact where mandatory evictions, such as section 21s, remain available to landlords. Allowing judicial discretion in all current possession proceedings will help to reduce homelessness and encourage better relationships between tenants and landlords. This must be considered if these changes are going to have the intended impact.”

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