Housing legal aid increasingly out of reach as repossessions rise

The Law Society of England and Wales has issued a stark warning about the lack of housing legal aid. The latest statistics show a continued rise in the numbers of households at risk of losing their home.

Quarterly figures from the Ministry of Justice for January to March 2023, show that mortgage possessions increased by 40% and landlord possessions (evictions) increased by 23% compared to the same quarter last year.*

37% of all landlord eviction claims were social landlord claims and 31% were private landlord claims.

The figures come at a time when people are facing difficulty in finding legal aid for housing issues.

Law Society research has found that 25.3m people (42%) do not have access to a local legal aid provider for housing advice.**

There are several large cities where the Ministry of Justice has been struggling to find providers for its Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service (HLPAS) scheme. The scheme is intended to provide urgent free legal aid advice for people facing repossession in large areas including Liverpool, Bedford and Darlington.

Law Society President Lubna Shuja said: “At a time when the cost-of-living crisis and rising interest rates mean more and more families are struggling with their housing costs, access to housing legal aid is vital. It can make the difference between people keeping or losing their home.

“We are extremely concerned that the government is struggling to attract bids for its new HLPAS scheme. Sadly, for many legal aid providers this type of contract is becoming increasingly difficult to make work financially. As a result, some can simply no longer afford to provide this vital public service.

“We are pleased the government launched its review of civil legal aid sustainability earlier this year, but unless we see significant and immediate investment across the legal aid system including housing, more of these schemes will collapse leaving people without help when they need it.

“The people behind today’s statistics cannot wait a year and half until the civil legal aid review. They need investment now so they can stay in their home.”

Notes to editors

* Statistics taken from Mortgage and landlord possession statistics: January to March 2023

** View our housing legal aid desert map

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