Fighting precarious housing situations
Supporting Londoners to tackle housing problems and homelessness
Law for Life is excited to launch a programme to address legal issues affecting people living in precarious housing situations in London. The programme will involve intermediary organizations working with private renters and people facing homelessness. It will focus on providing accessible legal information on issues of disrepairs, evictions and homelessness and building skills for dealing with private landlords and local authorities.
In a recent study about people’s understanding of the rental sector, (The Legal problems of renters, The Legal Education Foundation) 47% of respondents described their housing problems as “bad luck”. Only 11% understood that their problem had a legal dimension and 60% of people did not know that solicitors can help with eviction. Limited legal knowledge was particularly associated with those without educational qualifications, young people and migrants.
This knowledge gap is particularly worrying as legal aid and advice services continue to be subject to significant cuts, leaving people to fend for themselves in seeking access to justice. As a result, 73% of people with rented housing problems choose to handle them alone, without any form of legal advice or support.
Law for Life’s programme
This two-year programme is addressed to small-medium sized community organisations who work directly with people experiencing housing problems. We will focus on organisations who work with migrants, young people and individuals with complex needs as they are likely to experience additional hardships in securing decent housing.
The programme will include:
- Public legal education courses designed to simplify complex legal issues and teach the skills needed to engage with the system (e.g. negotiation, advocacy etc.). Sessions will also help participants identify appropriate sources of legal advice and support. Topics covered will include evictions, disrepairs and relevant aspects of homelessness law.
The workshops will be open to 20 participants in 3 locations across London.
- Strategic forums: Recognizing that many of the causes of precarious housing and homelessness are structural in nature, we will seek to support local groups in achieving structural change through ad-hoc strategic forums. For instance, the forums could help build alliances between pro bono legal professionals, housing activists and campaigners. This could foster the exchange of successful strategies for campaigning and advocacy or help improve participation of local groups in relevant debates and decision-making processes.
We’re planning to run four forums over the next two years.
- Legal information materials: Alongside the public legal education programme, we will develop new legal information resources to address the most important information gaps around housing issues. These may be in the form of self-help guides, infographics, top-tip sheets or short films.
This project is supported by Trust for London.
Have your say!
To help us shape this project and ensure it meets the needs of private renters as much as possible, we would love to hear from a range of community groups across London. This will allow us to gain a better understanding on the challenges people experience in dealing with housing problems as well as to identify ways in which legal education can increase community organisations’ capacity, adding value to their services and work. The consultation will take place online, and through telephone and face to face conversations.
If you’re interested in taking part to the consultation, or have any questions about the programme, please contact us.
You may also be interested in learning about our other current projects on housing rights:
Published: 17 January 2019