It has been widely reported in the news that possession claims have been put on hold since the pandemic started in March (2020). However what will happen after this is lifted?
A backlog of hundreds of cases is about to be processed through the courts and many people are at risk of losing their homes if they do not act quickly.
Every possession claim, whether it relates to a council tenancy, a housing association tenancy, private tenancy or mortgage, involves the landlord or lender, serving a notice to say they intend to go to court, filing court papers, in most cases obtaining a court hearing, obtaining a possession order and then obtaining an eviction date.
Under the court’s new two-stage process, there will be an added opportunity to challenge the claim for possession before the case proceeds to a court hearing.
Possession Claims First Stage- Review
The first stage is called the Review Appointment. At this stage, you can contact the duty advisor who can try and negotiate a deal with your landlord or mortgage lender so that you can continue to live in your home.
It may be possible for example to agree a suspended possession order which allows the arrears to be paid off by affordable installments.
You do not then have to go to court if an agreement has been reached at the review stage.
Possession Claims Stage Two- Court Hearing
If you are unable to come to an arrangement with your landlord, and the case proceeds to a court hearing, the duty advisor can represent you at the court hearing.
Advice from the duty advisor is FREE for everyone regardless of their income.
Howells are the duty advisor at Sheffield County Court, Barnsley County Court and Hull County Court.
Early Advice- Legal Aid
If there is a threat you may lose your home, it is always best to take advice early and not wait to receive the court papers.
As soon as you receive a threat of eviction such as a notice from your landlord, you may be entitled to free advice (Legal Aid) to see if for example the notice is valid or whether or not you have a defence to the claim for possession or even a counterclaim for things such as disrepair, harassment or your landlord’s failure to protect your deposit, that can be filed before the court hearing.
If you need early housing advice you can contact Howells to see if you qualify for legal aid. Even if you do not qualify for free early advice, we can still represent you for free at the review appointment or at the court hearing under the duty scheme.
Howells are proud to be the only firm of solicitors in South Yorkshire who have a legal aid contract to provide free advice for people with housing problems.
Legal aid is available for possession and eviction cases, homelessness, unlawful eviction and serious disrepair cases.
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