Housing

Facing homelessness, having difficulties with your mortgage company, landlord refusing to carry out repairs. These are all issues we can help you with in bureau.

Our Specialist housing officers can provide advice if:

  • You have received a notice requiring you to leave your home
  • A court claim for possession of your home has been made
  • You have received an eviction warrant setting a date and time for you to be evicted from your home
  • You are homeless, have made a homeless application to the local council and wish to challenge the decision made on this application
  • You have been illegally evicted from your home
  • Your home has very severe disrepair problems, which create a serious risk of harm to you or a member of your household

The Bureau provides advice on most other housing issues, these are normally dealt with by a generalist adviser.

You must contact us immediately if you receive any official court papers.

The number of people turning to Citizens Advice for help with illegal evictions in privately rented homes has risen by almost half over the last year.

New figures from the national charity show 2,087 people asked for help after being threatened with illegal eviction in the 12 months up to March 2016. This is a 47% rise, up from 1,415 the previous year.

Citizens Advice heard from people whose landlords tried to evict them for missing a single rent payment, changed the locks without warning, and in some cases seized their belongings.

Illegal eviction is a criminal offence. To evict tenants legally, a private landlord will usually have to serve them notice, then get a possession order followed by a bailiff’s warrant from a court.

A new database of landlords who have broken the law will be available to councils in England from October next year, and has been welcomed by Citizens Advice.

As part of its ‘Settled and safe’ campaign the charity is calling for the database to be made available to tenants so they can avoid bad landlords.

The Renters’ Rights Bill, which passed Second Reading in the House of Lords on 10 June, would give people in England the right to see if their landlord is on the database.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Landlords who break the law shouldn’t be able to hide.

“It’s a crime to throw people out of their homes without a court order, but more and more people are coming to Citizens Advice with this problem.

“The new database is a positive step which will help councils in England keep track of landlords who’ve broken the law. But unless tenants can check who’s on it, it will be continue to be hard for them to know which landlords to avoid. It’s crucial tenants are given access to this list.”

The Welsh Government is introducing its own licensing and registration system along with a database which will allow tenants to check online whether their property is registered and has a landlord with a valid licence.

Citizens Advice is offering advice to tenants in England facing illegal eviction:

  • Seek help from a professional adviser as soon as possible. You can call Adviceline on 03444 111 444, visit www.citizensadvice.org.uk or contact your local Citizens Advice.

  • Most tenants have the right to stay in a property until their contract ends, unless their landlord goes through a series of legal procedures to evict them. This can take several months and in some case you might be able to apply to have the procedures suspended. Seek advice to find out what your rights are, and don’t leave the property without an eviction order from the county court.

  • Lodgers have fewer rights than other tenants. If you live with your landlord they won’t have to go to court to evict you, but they must still give you a reasonable period of notice, which will depend on your circumstances.

  • Your landlord may have committed a criminal offence if they try to evict you without going through the legal procedures. Ask your local council for help with this. You might also want to speak to a solicitor if you are thinking about making a claim for compensation.

  • Call the police immediately if your landlord threatens or harasses you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is everyone eligible for specialist housing advice?
Our housing department works under a Legal Aid contract so can provide specialist housing advice to people who are financially eligible for Legal Aid. If you are not eligible for Legal Aid we can still provide you with advice, this would be from one of our generalist advisers. The bureau will complete a check during your first visit, f you are in receipt of benefits or in low paid work, you are likely to be eligible.

What should I bring with me when I visit the bureau?
You should bring all documents relating to your problem, in particular any court documents that you have received. To help us check your eligibility for Legal Aid you will need to provide proof of income for the last one month (up to and including the day of your visit to the bureau). Proof of your income includes payslips for wage payments, recent benefit letters or a bank statement for other sources of income (running up to and including the day you visit the bureau).

How important is it that I provide proof of income?
It is a Legal Aid requirement that we obtain proof of income before starting to provide you with advice(except in emergency cases). For this reason it is important that you provide us with proof of your income at the earliest possible time.

I have received an eviction warrant from the court, is it too late to save my home?
No. It is possible to ask the court to stop eviction warrants going ahead, although the court will not be able to do so in all cases. Seek advice immediately.

Are problems with mortgage arrears treated the same way as for rent arrears?

Legal Aid restrictions mean cases of mortgage arrears are not treated in the same way as cases of rent arrears. This means that some of the advice provided on mortgage cases may need to be provided by our Money Advice department, rather than the Housing department.

What can the Housing department do to help me?
Housing specialists are able to provide legal advice, negotiate with someone you are in dispute with, complete legal documents and provide representation at court hearings.

Citizens Advice

Town Hall
Oxford Street
Workington
Cumbria
CA14 2RS

Call Us
01900 604 735

Office Hours:

Mon - Thurs 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 16:30

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