If you’re a private renter in the UK in need of a little legal guidance, you may be worried about the potential cost that seeking such counsel could incur. Thankfully, there’s plenty of good advice for tenants available for free...if you know where to look.
To help you out, we’ve decided to put together a list of free advice services for tenants so that you won’t have to worry about finding a residential tenant advisor by yourself. All of the services are reputable and established, which means you can contact them confidently to discuss any issues you may be having whilst renting residentially in the UK.
Let’s get started!
The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
The Citizens Advice Bureau is a great place to start as they are so widely available throughout the country. The vast majority of towns and cities across the UK will have a local CAB office (search for yours here) and their staff are especially good at handing out advice for tenants with benefit concerns or debt problems.
Should you require specific advice on housing law, however, it’s always best to broach the subject on the phone when making an appointment so that you will be seen by someone who has a degree of expertise in this complex area. CAB offices cover a wide range of legal issues for free, so they’re a good place to start when seeking advice as a tenant.
Despite being known as a homelessness charity, Shelter also offers an amazing housing advice service for tenants as well. Unlike the Citizens Advice Bureau, Shelter is housing specific and probably the best place to get free advice if you’re a tenant in the UK, although their offices are nowhere near as widespread as CABs.
Their website is excellent and jam-packed with info that tenants will find useful when hunting down legal advice with regard to housing in the UK. Split into separate sections for ‘Scotland’ and ‘England and Wales’, Shelter’s site is a brilliant resource for anyone looking to get a little legal guidance without having to fork out for it.
If you’d prefer to speak to someone directly, they also have a number of ways for you to do so. Visit their ‘Get Help’ page to chat online, get their free helpline number, or find an advice centre local to you.
Law Centres fly under the radar somewhat, but they should definitely be on your list if solid advice for tenants is what you’re after. Set up back in the ‘70s, Law Centres specialise in social welfare law and they may be able to help you with any legal wranglings you may have with regard to housing.
Unlike many other free advice services for tenants, Law Centres can also offer help with casework and representation free of charge, if required. The downside is that many Law Centres are closing due to the reduction in civil legal aid expenditure over the last decade, so finding one close to you may be an issue.
By law, Local Authorities have to provide residents within their borough with advice regarding the prevention of homelessness and many of the larger councils across the country will have designated Tenancy Relation Officers (TROs) on hand to offer free advice to tenants when they need it.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all LAs, however, and some will only be able to offer advice on homelessness issues rather than housing law. That being said, they should still be able to offer counsel to you if you are under the threat of homelessness, so do contact them to find out what level of advice they can provide you with and any other help they may be able to offer.
The last one on our list is not housing specific, but it is a great resource for anyone seeking free legal advice in the England and Wales. LawWorks.org.uk puts individuals in need of legal counsel in touch with volunteer lawyers who are willing to work ‘pro bono’ with those who may not be eligible for legal aid or cannot afford to pay expensive legal fees.
On top of that, LawWorks also has a really good resource page that allows you to search for a legal advice clinic in your area, which you can find here.
BONUS: Advice For Renters
Advice For Renters, founded by a community of private renters, assist those living in privately rented property, helping them with legal advice and holistic support where needed.
They are also active campaigners for the rights of tenants, constantly pushing for a long overdue change to the UK's housing system. Go check them out.