THE HOUSING AND PUBLIC LAW TEAM

OUR HOUSING TEAM

Our Housing Team is proud to be rated “Excellent” by the Legal Aid Agency. We are ranked in the third highest rank in the 2015 edition of the Legal 500. We are committed to providing a high-quality service to our clients. We act for homeless applicants, tenants and other residential occupiers.  We will work with you to identify and achieve the best solution in your circumstances.  Most of our clients are eligible for legal aid, but if you are not, we will discuss different ways in which your case may be funded.

The Housing team is led by our Head of Department Rebecca Bahar, consultant Alan Russell and solicitor Poppy Bourke. The department is supported by trainee solicitors Reema Khosla and Gillian Wildgoose.

Our dedicated staff work closely with groups that campaign to protect rights for tenants, safeguard the legal aid system and enable access to justice. We work actively with local advice agencies, and provide advice and assistance to vulnerable individuals seeking help through other local organisations.

HOW WE CAN HELP

We have a wide range of experience in a number of areas, including:

Repair Problems

Your landlord has a legal responsibility to keep your home in good repair. If your landlord has done little or nothing to make proper repairs, you may be able to bring a disrepair claim.

Landlords have a responsibility in law to keep the structure of your building in repair and make sure that heating, hot and cold water, gas, electricity and sanitation (including basins, sinks, baths and toilets) are working properly. If you have told your landlord about problems and they have not carried out repairs, you may be able to go to court to issue a claim to make sure that repairs are completed and to seek compensation for any losses, inconvenience and distress.

We can also help if your repairs are really urgent and putting you and your family in danger. We will advise you whether to apply for an urgent court injunction, requiring your landlord to make the necessary repairs.

DEFENDING POSSESSION PROCEEDINGS

We can help you if you are threatened with court proceedings for repossession of your home. Possession proceedings might be brought against you for a number of reasons, including rent arrears, failure to keep to the terms of your tenancy agreement, and problems with succession after the death of a family member.

We have considerable experience in helping clients who are facing possession proceedings – as secure or introductory tenants of a local authority, as assured tenants of a housing association, as assured shorthold tenants of private landlords or as protected tenants under the Rent Act. We can help you to understand any claim which has been brought against you and will work with you to resolve the problem and protect your home.

We can help you at any stage of the process, but the earlier you get legal advice the better. It is particularly important for you to get advice as soon as possible if you are a tenant of a local authority or a housing association and you have been in your home less than a year.

SUSPENDING A WARRANT FOR EVICTION

If the court has already made an order for possession it may not be too late to stop you being evicted. Your landlord will still need a warrant for eviction to remove you from your home: if an application is made to suspend or stay the warrant for eviction, the court has the power to consider whether you should be allowed to stay in your home.

We have considerable experience in suspending warrants for eviction and helping clients who are on the point of being made homeless. We will talk to you and see whether we can help you, and advise on the best way to try to keep your home.

HOMELESSNESS

We have helped many homeless people obtain housing from Southwark, Lambeth, Lewisham and other London boroughs.

We can advise you at any stage of your homelessness application – if the council will not accept your application in the first place, or if it has refused to house you and you want that decision reviewed or appealed. We have extensive experience of county court homelessness appeals and challenges to refusal to provide interim accommodation.

ILLEGAL EVICTION

If you are suffering harassment from your landlord, or you have been unlawfully evicted or physically removed from your home without a court order, we can advise you about going to court to get an injunction that will force your landlord to allow you back in. It is generally not lawful to remove someone from their home without a court order, and in some cases landlords who do this are guilty of criminal offences.

In some cases, you may be able to get compensation for being unlawfully evicted, and we have a track record of getting significant damages for our clients.

MIGRANTS OUTSIDE MAINSTREAM HOUSING

We also act for migrants who fall outside the mainstream housing system. We have helped many vulnerable families and adults get support and accommodation from social services when they were at real risk of becoming street homeless.

FUNDING YOUR CASE

If you are on certain benefits or have a low income you may be entitled to help with your legal costs through legal aid. When you come to see us for advice we will check whether you are eligible for public funding.

If you do not quality for legal aid we may be able to arrange a different way of paying for your case, such as fixed fees. We will be as clear as possible about the costs of your case and what we will charge.

For cases of housing disrepair, we can offer eligible clients a conditional fee agreement (“no win, no fee”).  We will talk to you about whether your case is suitable for a no win, no fee agreement and we will explain clearly to you how this works.

If you have a housing matter that we can assist you with, contact us on 020 3207 2074 or by email at postroom@philcoxgray.co.uk.