The Centre specialises in cases in cases involving homelessness, possession, eviction, disrepair and asylum support law. We are not able to take on every case that is referred to us. We aim to provide support to other agencies referring cases to us, even when we cannot take on the case. That support may be telephone advice to assist the referral agency in resolving the problem without the client seeing a lawyer, or help in finding other sources of advice. Often we are able to see the client and take on the case.
We aim to give priority to
- Cases which benefit more than just one client (cases which change or influence law or policy locally or nationally)
- People who are vulnerable
- Those at risk of homelessness if not represented
- Homeless people without current temporary accommodation or where their temporary shelter is threatened
Examples of cases we may take on
- Possession cases including applications to suspend a Warrant
- Unfavourable decisions made against a homeless applicant, including reviews and appeals under the Housing Act 1996
- Some disrepair cases
- Landlord harassment, unlawful evictions, threats of possession proceedings (including private, housing association and local authority landlords)
- Clients requiring advice about Southwark’s allocation scheme (including “Southwark Homesearch”)
- Clients who are without any or any adequate accommodation and do not have access to mainstream housing for example because of their immigration status, including cases involving NASS and social services
- Clients who would have difficulty finding advice elsewhere, for example, in some circumstances we can act for clients who are not eligible for legal aid
Cases we cannot deal with
- Landlords - We do not advise Landlords.
- Right to Buy
- Mortgage possession cases
- Most neighbour disputes: but we may act for clients who need to be rehoused because of harassment
In all cases, we will have to decide whether we can take on a case having regard not only to the facts of the case, the client’s need for advice and personal circumstances, but also to whether or not we have capacity to provide an appropriate service. We are also of course unable to act where there is or may be a conflict of interest. This may mean that we are not always able to take on cases which we would like to, including urgent cases, but wherever possible for housing cases we will attempt to provide an assessment and referral service, helping clients to access advice from other agencies including local firms of solicitors and other voluntary sector agencies. We have access to a local email network which coordinates referrals for housing cases. If we are able to make a referral using this network no identifying details will be circulated( but the facts of the case will be summarised) and we will ask the client to agree that their contact details can be passed on to any agency which is able to take on the case.
Additional Service: Bidding Support Project
We have been working with Southwark Citizens Advice Bureau to deliver a bidding support project for those registered for housing or re-housing with the London Borough of Southwarks' Homesearch scheme. At the sessions, trained volunteers advise applicants on how to use the internet effectively to bid for housing to help increase their chances.
Sessions are available each Friday at:
Bermondsey Library, Blue Anchor Place,
Market Place, SE16
10.30am - 1pm
Southwark Pensioners Centre,
305-307 Camberwell Road, SE5
Appointments are not necessary, just come along, however do remember to bring your bidding number with you.
The project has been very effective in helping people. Read some case studies here of applicants who have benefited from attending a session.