Housing

We have years of experience in dealing with housing matters providing advice and assistance

We have years of experience in dealing with housing matters

At M2M Community Solicitors LLP we have years of experience in dealing with housing matters providing advice and assistance in a number of areas in housing law. People with housing issues will usually need immediate assistance and will involve short deadlines which will need to be met. If your problem is in relation to disrepair issues, it is essential that photographs should be taken and notes are kept of all conversations with landlords including the time and date so that this can be used as evidence if needed. We will need to have a copy of all such information in order to assist fully.

Legal Aid used to be available to cover most housing matters however, since the change in April 2013 there are very limited situations where Legal Aid is available. If a client’s case is suitable for Legal Aid then rest assured, we inform clients about this and refer them to their nearest Legal Aid provider. It is common however, that clients choose to instruct us anyway due to the urgency of their case rather than waiting for lists of providers or the location of such providers.

The areas we deal with are as follows:

• Homelessness

For these types of cases, Legal Aid is available. It is essential that if a client has a homelessness issue that they seek advice immediately. The deadlines to deal with a homelessness issue are very short. We can assist with chasing for a decision to be made once a housing application has been made, we can assist with an application for Judicial Review if a client has been informed that accommodation will not be provided to them or the accommodation is being withdrawn (the application can be made on the same day as the decision), we can assist with the review procedure to try and achieve the desired outcome of convincing the Homeless Department that they have a duty to accommodate our clients and we can also assist with appealing a final decision to the County Court.

• Possession proceedings including eviction

We assist both tenants and landlords although under the solicitors practice rules we do need to carry out a conflict check to ensure that we do not advise both parties to the proceedings. Legal Aid is available to assist tenants but not available for landlords.

If our client is a tenant

If our client is a tenant the starting point is to ensure that all paperwork provided to the tenant by the landlord or managing agent has been correctly drafted. This would normally be a basis for defending possession proceedings. We will also look at the type of tenancy a client has and assess the case as to whether there is merit to defend the case. There are different grounds for a landlord applying to Court for possession and the most common reasons could be for rent arrears or behaviour of the tenant. Even in worst case scenarios, homes can be saved.

If our client is a landlord

We will ensure that the relevant paperwork is drafted correctly for possession or if it has been drafted previously by the landlord or managing agent, we will check through the paperwork to ensure that there will not be a problem with claiming possession. The amount of incorrect paperwork drafted by people or other organisations leading to problems in claiming possession is substantial. We can assist with the possession procedure regardless of what type of tenancy, a tenant has to ensure that the claim for possession is as smooth running as possible.

• Allocations

Most people on a housing register believe that they are in the wrong band. We carry out assessments based on the criteria for your particular Local Authority or Housing Association to see whether you appear to be in the correct band or not. If not then we will assist by gathering together relevant evidence to show this as well as assisting with a review by making full representations. If however, it appears as though you are in the correct band, we will advise you of this.
This is an area where Legal Aid is no longer available. One of the most common allocations policy is Locata. Not all Local Authorities use Locata but each Local Authority and Housing Association have their own allocation policy. They are generally graded A-D. At M2M Community Solicitors LLP we try to assist with getting our clients banding increased. We have our own interpretation of the grading as below:

A = Absolutely have a chance
B = Better than band C
C = Coming within the next two decades – we hope
D = Dream on (Some Councils obviously agree with Dream on because they have removed this banding)

The above should be clear that the higher the band that a client has, the more chance in moving accommodation. The banding the client is entitled to is based upon their particular circumstances. It can be surprising how many people are in an incorrect band and the battles they have with the Local Authority to increase their banding can be tough. There are many ways to deal with the problem and we advise and assist with all options.

• Disrepair

This is where a tenant is living in a property where there are problems such as mould on wall, damp, pests such as mice, rats, pharaoh ants and other creatures, no heating or hot water as well as many other issues. There are certain procedures which need to be followed before the matter can progress to Court but in a number of cases, the issues can be dealt with without the need of going to Court.

We can advise on how best to proceed based on your circumstances.
Disrepair is an area which generally a number of solicitors either do not deal with or do not want to deal with. Legal Aid is no longer available for disrepair matters unless in exceptional circumstances. The first port of call should be to speak with the tenancy relations department at the Local Authority. Some will assist with disrepair matters and other will not. The reason why a client should speak to the tenancy relations department first is due to the expense of running a disrepair case.

Every client should have already informed their landlord of the disrepair matter, ideally in writing and have given their landlord an opportunity to deal with the matter before seeking advice and assistance. Evidence is the key to these types of cases, the more photographs and video evidence that a client has, the better. There is a pre action protocol which needs to be followed and we can assist to ensure that every client complies with the pre action protocol and to assess the case prior to issuing proceedings at Court. Client’s need to remember that many cases can be resolved without Court action provided it is done so correctly applying the correct tactics to the case. This will in turn, save costs.

Mortgage repossession schemes and possession – (please see link)

Frequently Asked Questions

Are your services free of charge?

We charge for our services but where Legal Aid is available we will advise clients of this so they can try and obtain advice elsewhere free of charge.

I have a deadline in a few days, what do I do?

If you have a deadline approaching, call 020 8938 4611 to try and book an urgent appointment. Please tell our receptionist the deadline at the start of the call so that if we do not have any available appointments for you, we do not waste your time. We will always try and accommodate clients with deadlines where we can. The key is to try and book an appointment as soon as you realise you have a problem you require assistance with.

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