The Law Society Gazette was rather a worrying read this week. Amid tales of criminal legal aid solicitors going on strike, and DCA leadership not being fit for purpose, was this news item on plummeting legal aid housing contracts which have fallen from 840 to 587 – a drop of some 30%. A bet that there are quite a few housing law deserts out there – 587 firms cannot cover the whole country, particularly as I suspect quite a few of those are in London.
I attended a housing conference last week. The speaker on unlawful eviction confirmed that in his experience the police simply refuse to take any action when someone is illegally evicted – despite that fact that it is a criminal offence. And yet being unlawfully evicted from your home must be the most traumatic experience.
So if the poor old illegally evicted tenant can’t get any help from the police and there are hardly any legal aid housing solicitors for him to consult – how is he going to be able to enforce his rights to re-instatement (if he wants it) and compensation? Drafting a decent court claim for compensation for unlawful eviction is not easy as there are so many different causes of action – it would be a difficult job for most litigation solicitors, let alone a litigant in person.
Its not fair is it? And what is the point of making something a criminal offence if the police refuse to deal with it?