Yesterday EYE carried news of the launch of a government-backed scheme in which people facing eviction or repossession in England and Wales will be able to receive expert legal advice free of charge.
The Housing Loss Prevention Advice Service (HLPAS) is expected to help tens of thousands of families a year to keep their homes.
But not everyone is convinced the scheme will be effective.
Law Society of England and Wales President Lubna Shuja said:
“In principle we support the HLPAS.
“It is also a welcome recognition of the value of early advice and the need to address a client’s problems holistically. We cannot underestimate the value of early legal advice as it can help address problems before they escalate, preventing cases from going to court unnecessarily.
“However, we have continuing concerns as to whether the system will be effective, and about the increasing legal aid advice deserts caused by long-term underfunding of the system.
“The scheme is provided by solicitors and therefore contingent on the number of solicitors able to do the work. With rising legal aid advice deserts, there are fewer and fewer legal aid practitioners able to give legal advice.
“Those facing eviction will not be able to access vital legal advice if there is no legal advice provider in their area.”
Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark said:
“Propertymark recognise the UK Government is seeking to support people facing hardship or eviction, however, there needs to be an equitable system in place which is responsive, fair and progressive for all parties involved.
“We encourage the government to work more closely with landlords and agents to provide support or at least take measures to reverse the primary causes which sees many landlords selling and having to potentially evict tenants from their homes in the first place.
“It is also vital to consider the flip side of the coin whereby many landlords are also dealing with increased costs making it challenging to operate.
“Any new system must prove fair, sensible and workable for landlords, agents and tenants equally.
“We welcome the idea of having procedures that address concerns, keep pace with fast moving legislation and bringing swift resolutions on an individual basis.”