Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme
We have exclusively managed the Court Duty Scheme at Darlington County Court since 2007.
We provide on-the-day emergency advice and advocacy to anyone facing the following:
- Possession proceedings brought by a private landlord/ registered social landlord or local authority in relation to rent arrears
- Possession proceedings brought by a mortgage lender in relation to mortgage arrears
- Applications to stay/suspend execution of warrants of possession
- Charging orders if you are at immediate risk of losing your home through a forced sale
When you arrive at court, the court usher should direct you to one of our team where you can obtain face to face advice prior to your hearing. We will liaise with third parties to negotiate payments and make payment plans where possible. We will then represent you in court. After the hearing we will send to you a letter setting out the advice given, the court decision and any follow up work which we recommend.
You must arrive at least thirty minutes prior to your hearing if you would like advice and assistance.
The scheme is funded by the Legal Aid Agency but it is not means tested.
Frequently Asked Questions
I am behind with my rent and my landlord insists upon the full amount of arrears being paid immediately. Can I clear my arrears at an affordable rate?
Yes. In the majority of cases, if court proceedings are issued a judge will accept reasonable, affordable payments from you provided the arrears are cleared over a reasonable period of time.
I cannot get Legal Aid for a landlord and tenant dispute and I cannot afford to pay privately. Is there anything I can do?
Yes. Check your house and car insurance as you may find that you are paying for legal services and your insurance company may fund legal fees and court fees.
I have presented as homeless but my application has been rejected. Is there anything I can do to challenge it?
Yes. If you are unhappy with the decision then you may be able to challenge it. Initially, you can request a review by the local authority. If this is unsatisfactory then in some cases it may be appropriate for you to apply to court for a judicial review of the decision. A judicial review can’t impose a new decision on the council, but it can overturn the decision that has already been made and require that your case is looked at again.
I owe rent arrears and the council has issued a notice seeking possession. Do I have to leave my home?
No. If the local authority wants to evict you because of rent arrears it must first of all comply with the rent arrears protocol and do all it can to resolve matters before issuing proceedings. Even though a notice seeeking possession has been served, the local authority must obtain a court order for possession before you must leave your home. Once the local authority has commenced the court proceedings, the court may not necessarily order you to give up possession of your property and in many cases the court can be persuaded to either adjourn the case or postpone a possession order provided arrears are cleared at an affordable rate.
My property is badly affected by damp and it is making me ill. I have complained so many times but nothing is ever done. Is there anything I can do?
Yes. All landlords, including local authorities, housing associations and private landlords, have a legal duty to maintain their property in an adequate state of repair. They must also ensure that any defects in the property don’t pose a threat to the safety of tenants. If the property condition is unacceptable then you may be able to apply for a court order requiring your landlord to put things right. In some cases, the court can award you compensation where repairs have been delayed for no good reason.
I have a court hearing for possession of my property. What can I do?
We strongly urge you to contact Clark Willis Law Firm LLP at the first opportunity to discuss your situation with one of our housing specialists. We may be able to help you come to a realistic arrangement and negotiate with your landlord on your behalf. This often results in possession proceedings being delayed or suspended whilst you stick to an agreement. If you do not contact us until the day of the hearing, we will not be able to give you as much assistance but we may be able to represent you under the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme if your hearing is listed at Darlington County Court. If you would like advice and advocacy at Court, you must arrive at least thirty minutes before your hearing otherwise we cannot guarantee we will have enough time to see you.