Ella approached her local pro bono clinic as she was trying to get her deposit back after her landlord had terminated her assured shorthold tenancy. Ella was advised on how to recover this and the failure of the landlord to protect the deposit. Ella was helped to prepare legal proceedings and to submit a claim. The landlord took no action and the matter proceeded to trial. The volunteer agreed to further assist Ella at the hearing. Ella was successful at the hearing and the judge made an award in her favour for the return of the deposit balance £1,042, a penalty of £4,626 for failure to register the deposit and £615 in court costs.

“My rent arrears had built up because of Universal Credit problems. When I moved into my current property, I tried to change my address with Universal Credit, but they kept sending payments to my previous landlord, who kept the money. Universal Credit saw it as I’d received the payment, so that was that. It took eight months to rectify their mistake – eight months with nothing but my wages, which aren’t huge, and still having to pay for childcare.”

Law Centre client

Maria and her children were evicted from their home after the benefit cap meant her housing benefit no longer covered the rent. The council offered smaller accommodation 50 miles away from their family and friends.

The clinic’s pro bono lawyers argued that the council were not taking the children’s best interests into consideration. As a result, the family were able to stay in their community and in their home. The children were able to stay in school with their friends and didn’t have to leave any of their belongings behind.

“For me it wasn’t about the compensation, it was about the house. Once the settlement was agreed… I was free to go home. I was so overwhelmed I burst into tears. I just felt such a huge relief. It was like the weight had just been lifted off my shoulders and I could get my life back on track. I’d put so much on hold because I was convinced I was going to lose my house. It felt amazing.

Before this, I had no idea whatsoever of my rights and the process I was supposed to go through. I don’t think enough people do know, and so they go into situations with no knowledge whatsoever. Some people end up homeless because they didn’t have the support I had. I know 100% I’m in my home because of the law centres’ support.”

Law Centre client

Sandra faced serious domestic violence and had been beaten so badly she suffered brain damage. Her partner repeatedly ignored injunctions against him. Repeat disturbances to her neighbours meant that Sandra’s landlord threatened to evict her. The police could take action against her partner but couldn’t help with her housing problem. Sandra had no funds to pay for legal help and was initially too scared to go to solicitors; but went to a pro bono clinic advertised as free.

A volunteer lawyer drafted an application on her behalf to prevent forfeiture of her lease. It was accepted. Sandra was able stay in her home and looks towards a brighter future.

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Please be aware that we are not able to provide legal advice. Please visit advicelocal.uk to find support in your area, or advicenow.org.uk for practical information.