A useful link from the MoJ today highlights the availability of the Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes (‘HPCDS’” or ‘Scheme’) which offers “on-the-day” emergency face to face advice and advocacy to anyone facing possession proceedings (see http://bit.ly/30y5Fld). Anyone in danger of eviction or having their property repossessed can get free legal advice and representation on the day of their hearing, regardless of their financial circumstances.
The Scheme covers the following types of proceedings at the court:
(a) Private rented possession proceedings
(b) Public/registered social landlord rented possession proceedings
(c) Mortgage possession proceedings
(d) Applications to stay/suspend execution of warrants of possession; and
(e) Clients with charging orders relating to property whereby the client is at immediate risk of losing their home through a forced sale.
Civil legal services in respect of housing possession are within the scope of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (‘LASPO’), and it is on that basis that funding is provided by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) for Housing Possession Court Duty Schemes. Delivery is by providers (under contracts with the LAA), with each contract aligned to a particular scheme made up of single or multiple courts, and awarded following a competitive procurement process.
Sounds like a much needed scheme but our experience is that very little is done at the time of eviction to suspend proceedings or take action to keep people in their homes.
Our view is that as enforcement professionals we can and should be highlighting the availability of the scheme at the time notice of eviction is given and at the time of the eviction itself. Of course, it may all be too late to make a difference to the plight of people being evicted but we see no reason why we cannot give out information in a prescribed form. We have responded to the online survey suggesting this today.
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