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Legal and debt advice for those struggling with rent or mortgage arrears

Female lawyer speaking to female client in Shelter offices
Shelter Scotland
Written by Shelter Scotland

Shelter Scotland’s Housing Law & Debt Advice Service provides specialist legal advice and representation to anyone in the Alloa, Dundee, Falkirk, Forfar, Jedburgh, Selkirk and Stirling Sheriff Court areas who is facing eviction from their tenancy for rent arrears or are at risk of their home being repossessed due to mortgage arrears.

We can help private tenants as well as social tenants – where the landlord is asking the court for an eviction order based on rent arrears.

If the landlord/ lender has not yet taken you to court but are threatening legal action our debt advisers can help you.

There is no “ban” on new eviction actions being raised, and there is nothing in place to prevent landlords or mortgage providers asking the Court or Tribunal to grant a court order to evict tenants or repossess homes, in those cases which are already in the Court or Tribunal system.

At court, landlords and mortgage companies are normally legally represented by a solicitor.  Their legal representatives will have been involved since the beginning of the court action. Our project, funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB), offers our clients an opportunity to access their own representative. A solicitor or lay-representative can put forward your case at court by using their legal knowledge and skills to reduce the risk of homelessness. Our Housing Law Service offers a vital lifeline.

Our team have offered support and legal advice to hundreds of people each year who are at risk of losing their home because of rent or mortgage arrears. During these difficult times, we know it is more important than ever that we provide support and advice to those who need it.

Anyone wanting to access our service can be referred by partner agencies such as your local Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) or through Shelter’s own online advice pages.  Appointments are offered over the telephone with a solicitor or lay-representative. We can also make sure that a debt adviser can come to your appointment, if this is something you need.  We will take time to talk to you about any legal or money problems, offer tailored advice and agree an action plan.

In pre-Coronavirus times we would regularly attend court and represent our clients, putting forward their case to the Sheriff. Since the lockdown in March 2020, we have adapted to home working and continue to represent our clients at court, via teleconference hearings.  Courts might now ask you to provide written representations before their court hearing. We can do this.  Even if a court order has been granted, it may not be too late to call for our advice.

For anyone struggling to access legal representation, for whatever reason, in these areas our SLAB funded project offers a useful and essential service.

Please call us on 0344 515 2401 or 0355 515 2527 or get in touch by e-mail at tayside@shelter.org.uk