Free Legal Help And Advice For Renters In Southwark And Lambeth
It can be hard to know where to turn when things go wrong in a private tenancy. A dispute with your landlord can leave you feeling stressed and powerless.
But fear not, there are a wealth of places offering private tenants free legal help, support and advice out there. In honour of our partnership with Impact on Urban Health to help private tenants in Southwark and Lambeth we have put together a list of some of the services available.
From community mutual aid groups to free legal advice clinics run by law schools, there is more free help out there than you might expect. And if you don’t live in South London this article might still be of use as we have broken down organisations offering legal help for tenants by area into; Southwark, Lambeth, London-wide and UK-wide services, so there should be something for everyone.
This list is by no means everything on offer and many of the organisations we’ve included here have their own lists of links to other groups which are definitely worth checking out.
Part of the national network of Law Centres designed to help those on low incomes access legal help, Cambridge House in Elephant and Castle has a long history of providing free, confidential advice, assistance and representation in housing, employment and social welfare law.
Qualified solicitors and legal case workers can help tenants with advice on their housing rights and by legally representing people who face eviction, homelessness, disrepair, and other problems relating to their housing situations. They also have exceptional resources for renters.
Set up by Citizens Advice Southwark in partnership with the Southwark Law Centre and Kineara to give private tenants a voice and provide a safe space for them to meet, exchange information and get help where needed. Their website also provides guidance, materials and information on renters’ rights.
Southwark Law Centre is a referral agency providing free legal advice and representation mainly to people who live, work or study in Southwark, it is not a drop-in service, visits must be pre-arranged.
Kineara help private renters who are facing eviction and homelessness to access benefits and improve income, communicate with landlords, access wellbeing and health services, advocate for suitable housing for their family, address home safety and disrepair, and find onward housing.
Their intensive rent support programme also supports tenants to overcome barriers preventing them from maintaining their tenancy.
Their offices in Bermondsey, Peckham and Walworth operate drop-in services on varying weekdays – advice is also available over the phone, by email and online, more details are available on their website.
Law students from Southbank University can provide free legal help and information on any topic including housing, family, employment, welfare rights and consumer disputes. This advice is provided by students with the supervision of a trained solicitor.The drop-in centre is open 5 days a week during term times, see their website for more details.
The Legal Advice Clinic provides free legal help and information on any topic, including housing, family employment, welfare rights and consumer disputes. It does not include immigration.
BAC can provide free, comprehensive legal advice on issues related to private tenancies - you can get in touch via the form on their website.
You can also call between 10am and 3pm Monday to Thursday or drop in and see them at their office at 167 Railton Rd. more info is available on the Contact Us section of their website.
This service is open to anyone who is renting privately in Lambeth. This includes whether you are having issues with an Assured Shorthold Tenancy, are a lodger or a licensee or are a protected tenant
One of the first Citizens Advice services to open its doors in 1939 Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth has over over 80 years’ experience helping people in the area. They provide support and information about all aspects of private renting, both through their website, over the phone or in person at a face-to-face session.
Centre 70 was founded in 1970 and offers free expert advice on money worries, housing issues and legal problems. They have a range of outreach locations in Lambeth and across London, with their main hub based in West Norwood. They also have a comprehensive list of housing resources both local and national on their website here.
Lambeth council's housing advice team can be contacted by anyone who needs housing advice and feels that they may be threatened with homelessness or feels they need help to retain their housing.
Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth is a housing action group made up of families and individuals who are homeless in temporary accommodation, living in overcrowded housing or face other housing problems.
They meet on the second Thursday of each month and on the last Saturday of the month at 10am in Elephant & Castle, see their website for more details.
The Lambeth mutual aid group work locally and autonomously to help people who need it. You can find a spreadsheet which will help you locate the relevant local or community group on the ‘about’ section of their Facebook page.
Unlike other services on this page, mutual aid groups are more informal, horizontal organisations made up of people keen to help out others in their community however they can.
The BPP University Law School, (which has a campus at Waterloo) offers free legal advice on a range of subjects including Housing.
Sessions have to be pre-booked and take place over the internet or face-to-face and are not limited by where you live. Priority is given to those who would not otherwise be able to access legal services (for example, due to income or location).
Unlike many organisations listed here the LRU is not an advice service, charity or a law firm - instead they are more focused on collective direct action. Their website says: “we take action together by writing letters and organising protests to demand our rights be respected.
“Through collective action, we’ve helped members get their deposits back, ensure urgent repairs are made and stop evictions.”
While the group is not an advice agency and doesn't do individual casework, they can give information on housing rights and direct people to other agencies – and put renters in touch with each other to organise for themselves.
Their website says: “We give renters in London the tools and knowledge they need to challenge unfair treatment from their landlords, and to campaign locally, in their boroughs or London-wide, for fairer renting.”
Shelter have a comprehensive selection of services for people in need of advice or support with private rented housing including; template letters to landlords and local authorities, advice on what to do in various situations and their housing helpline number, 0808 800 4444 is open 8am-8pm on weekdays and 8am-5pm on weekends, 365 days a year.
A national organisation with a London branch, Acorn describes itself as a community union and often takes on direct action on behalf of members facing housing issues - including organising picket lines outside letting agents and landlords.
They also have a very useful facebook group where renters can give and receive information about their individual problems without needing to join Acorn. The help on offer there is informal but many members are well versed on the in’s and out’s of private renting regulations and happy to offer advice.
Another member-led organisation with local branches across the UK, Living Rent also describes itself as a union. Primarily working on a case-by-case basis through its Member Defence Teams across the country, Living Rent takes direct action on behalf of renters.
“Using direct collective action, member defence teams across the country have resisted evictions, won tens of thousands of pounds worth of repairs, rent reductions and compensation for our members,” according to their website.
This government webpage clearly and simply sets out all the information you need to know if you are worried you may be facing eviction by a private landlord.
The government civil legal advice service can help you speak to a legal advisor for free if you meet the requirements for legal aid. This service can help specifically with housing issues as well as help with death, domestic and child care problems.
A private tenant organisation which provides free or low-cost legal advice and representation from expert housing specialists. Service includes help with housing-related matters such as energy bills and debt advice.