Central Law is based in Chelmsford, Essex. The Central law Housing Department provides the only low- cost, subsidised advice and representation in Essex. There is a single solicitor with a Legal Aid housing contract in Essex and they are based in Southend. Not even a firm, just one solicitor.
In the surrounding counties of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent, there is only one Legal Aid Housing provider – Suffolk Law Centre and the situation is similarly dire throughout the South of England.
There is an uneven spread of Housing Legal Aid services in the South. In London and Greater London, there are well over 100 providers of Housing Legal Aid services, but outside London it is a Legal Aid desert. The negative consequences of this situation cannot be overstated. Landlords are unable to seek low cost advice, so they are more likely to act inappropriately, breach civil laws, and end up issuing possession proceedings in the overwhelmed County Courts.
On the other side of the coin, tenants are signing tenancy agreements without understanding them, breaching their obligations unintentionally or without understanding the consequences of doing so, and are more likely to end up homeless and requiring the services of the local councils, who do not have sufficient housing stock and staff to keep up with demand.
Our services are essential and more organisations like ours are needed in every county.