Further Advice Services
10 – 19 minutes to read
In this guide
If the advice and guidance on this site does not answer your question sufficiently and/or if you want to take things further, we have here a list of other organisations and services you could try.
Note that we cannot guarantee that any of these services will actually be able to help you or that they will provide a good service. The information is provided in good faith and you use them at your own risk.
Shelter are the top housing law charity in this country. They have a fabulous website which is divided into separate sides for England / Wales and Scotland.
Their online advice guide is full of useful help for tenants.
2. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
The CAB is the main legal charity in this country and you will generally find a CAB office in most cities, towns and large villages.
However, as they deal with many areas of consumer law, your local office may not have anyone particularly knowledgeable about housing law, which is a bit of a specialist subject.
So if you are making an appointment to see someone, make sure you let them know that your problem is housing related, so they can find an advisor for you who has some experience in this area.
Generally, CAB staff are particularly good with debt advice and help on benefit issues.
3. Local Authority advice services
Local Authorities have a statutory duty to advise tenants, on homelessness and the prevention of homelessness under s179 of the Housing Act 1986. Some confine their advice just to homelessness problems, but others provide advice on other tenant-related issues too.
Many of the larger authorities will have professionally staffed advice centres and dedicated TROs (tenancy relations officers).
Conversely, some authorities (for example some rural authorities) who don’t have a lot of rented property in their area, will have limited staff tasked with this work. However, as it is a statutory duty they should have someone you can speak to – at least if you are threatened with homelessness.
These are all free services so are worth checking out if you are experiencing problems with your landlord – plus if they find your landlord has been acting against the law, as enforcers, the Local Authorities will have the clout to do something about it.
Whether they actually do, say, bring a prosecution though, will often depend on the LA resources and staffing levels.
If you do not know your Local Authority you can find out here.
4. Law Centres
If you are lucky enough to have a law centre near you, then this is an excellent place to go for free advice and legal help.
They are often staffed with experienced housing solicitors. Even the unqualified staff will normally have received proper training and be supervised by people who really know their subject.
Unlike many other advice organisations, the Law Centres will be able to act for you in legal proceedings at no charge. However, with the continual reduction in legal aid, Law Centres are finding it increasingly difficult to survive.
You will find a list of them all here.
Although solicitors are businesses and need to charge for their services in order to survive, they do offer some free services. For example, many firms will offer an initial free or fixed fee interview.
Obviously, these are designed to encourage you to use their paid services. However they can be useful if you just want someone to give some quick advice, or perhaps take a look at some paperwork for you.
Don’t forget also that many services can be funded by no win no fee agreements – particularly personal injury claims.
So if you or your family are suffering illnesses caused by the poor condition of your rented home – you should be able to find someone to act with no upfront payment from you. Assuming your landlord is likely to be able to pay up.
However, be warned – many solicitors firms do not have staff who understand landlord & tenant law. As we say above, this is a specialist area of law and not something your average family or personal injury lawyer will have much experience in.
Even if your claim IS a personal injury claim, if it is housing related, you will be better off with a solicitor from a firm with a good housing law department.
If you are on a low income, note also that you can still sometimes get legal aid for housing-related issues. You can search for a legal aid solicitor (or legal advisor) here.
Our Telephone Advice Service
If you would like (paid) telephone advice from a specialist housing solicitor, click here for our service.
6. Your Insurance Company
Insurance policies often come with free legal help as part of the package. So it might be worth digging out your household and other insurance paperwork and see what is included.
Although strictly speaking it is not ‘free’ as you have paid for the policy, you should not have to pay any more for the advice service – so why not use it?
7. Your Union
Union members have access to all sorts of free or budget priced services.
Generally, the legal advice is angled towards employment issues, but there is no harm in seeing if there is access to legal advice for housing problems.
8. Law works
Law works is a legal ‘pro bono’ (posh word for free) organisation which coordinates the provision of free legal work by lawyers for suitable cases.
The website is also a good way to find out about other local legal advice services which are not law centres.
All in all it is a very good place to go if you have a legal issue and need professional help.
9. Ombudsmen & Property Redress Schemes
This is not strictly speaking somewhere you can go to for advice – but it may be somewhere you can get help. Or to use the proper term – redress.
If you have a complaint about your letting agent or property manager, you can bring a complaint to one of the two government authorised Property Redress Services.
All letting agents and property managers are required to belong to one of these by law – although a few rogue organisations have still not joined up.
The two organisations are:
It is a condition of using these organisations however that yo have tried to resolve your issue direct with the company, so do try to do this first, or they will reject your application.
10. Other services
The services above are the main free services. However, we set out below a number of other free and paid-for services which you may also want to consider.
Get Rent Back
Get rent back is a website that has guidance on how to get a Rent Repayment Order, for example, if your property is a licensable HMO but your landlord has failed to obtain a license.
Advice4Renters used to be called the Brent Private Tenants Rights Group. They now offer a low cost and legal aid advice for tenants.
The guidance page is here. But you can also instruct them on a paid basis – where they take a percentage.
If you have to pay legal fees, some people are able to raise the money, particularly if their case is of national importance or interest, via a crowdfunding site such as crowdjustice.
If you are aware of any other services which could usefully be listed here please let us know.
11. Blogs and other information websites
These are other places you can visit to look things up.
Government Online Information
The Government now publishes two guides for tenants to help them:
- How to rent – NB this booklet must be given free of charge to all tenants by their landlord
- How to rent a safe home
Landlord Law Blog
Landlord Law Blog (run by Renters Guide director Tessa Shepperson), has been going since 2006 and now has a huge bank of tips, articles and the ‘blog clinic’ posts. These last are all real-life problems that have been sent to in by readers.
Not all questions are answered, and if they are answered, answers will not normally be published until several months after the question has been sent (although paid for fast track questions will normally be answered within 48 hours).
However, if you take a look at the past posts you may find a question which is similar to yours.
The blog is currently written by a team of solicitors and barristers and is very well respected. Most of the posts are written probably more with a professional audience in mind, and they can be a bit technical, but the site is a wonderful online resource.
Particularly if you want to know something about a recent housing law case.
Anthony Gold Legal Insights
You need to go to the Legal Insights section and click on one of the property categories
Anthony Gold do quite a lot of landlord & tenant litigation (frequently representing the tenants) so are often able to write from the point of view of the solicitor in the case – which is always worth reading.
Property 118 is neither a lawyer’s website nor strictly speaking a tenants site. It was set up by property investor and landlord Mark Alexander a few years ago as a site for private landlords.
However, it is a good place to post your question and get answers from readers – many of whom understand this area of law pretty well. A few housing lawyers also comment there from time to time.
Quite a few tenants have posted questions there and got some very good advice.
There are lots of property forums around, ranging from landlord forums such as Property Tribes (where occasionally tenants venture in) to Martin Lewis’s Money Saving Expert which has a big section on rented property.
Another forum is the LandlordZONE forum, and there are several others.
This is the end of this article.
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