“Without them I would have lost my home. Actually I would have lost everything.”

Talia*, a single mother, relied on Universal Credit, Carer’s Allowance, and Child Benefit to support herself and her two children, both of whom were at school. Talia was also struggling with various medical conditions, including depression and dyslexia, but her priority was securing her children’s future. When her landlord threatened to evict the family, serving a section 21 ‘no-fault’ eviction notice, Talia was blindsided.

Coming to court to defend her home, Talia met Jeinsen (housing solicitor) and Florence (paralegal) with South West London Law Centres, who were on duty to help people like Talia protect their home. They spotted that the landlord had made mistakes in the eviction notice—mistakes that could have the case thrown out.

Talia was told that she could apply for legal aid to sort out the problems with the landlord that led to him trying to evict her. Despite being on benefits, she was refused legal aid: her life savings, meant for helping her children through university, meant that she was not poor enough to get help.

The Law Centre wouldn’t have it. Refusing to leave Talia to fend for herself, Jeinsen and Florence took the case on ‘pro bono’—for free—in order to see justice done.

“After my hearing the Law Centre helped me apply for legal aid. I was shocked that I could not get legal aid even though I had universal credit. When my legal aid was refused, Jeinsen and Florence stuck with me. They drafted my defence and represented me for free.”

The Law Centre solicitors put together a strong defence of Talia’s home. It worked: Talia won her case, the landlord’s possession claim was dismissed, and the family’s home was secured.

“I’ve never been in this position before. I had no idea what to do. Jeinsen and Florence took me through the eviction process step by step. Without them I would have lost my home. Actually, I would have lost everything. Had I not spoken to the ushers who sent me to see the duty solicitors, I don’t know how things would have turned out.”

The Law Centre’s commitment helps Talia and other vulnerable people like her get the professional help they need, with or without legal aid. With this help, they can overcome problems and get on with their lives.

The cost-of-living emergency means that more and more people are not able to afford a lawyer, to resolve the problems that life throws at all of us.

South West London Law Centres have operated a court duty scheme for many years. We continue to offer free legal advice at the heart of the community, with offices in Croydon, Morden and Clapham Junction.

If your home is at risk, you are homeless, or your rented home is being neglected by your landlord and affecting you or your family’s health— do not suffer alone, contact us now!

“I really appreciate your help. I would have been completely stuck without you. It was really great having someone explain things to me in a way I could understand. It made what was a nightmare actually bearable.”

*Name has been changed