Community Law Clinic
Tia Matt and Natasha Bellinger have been managing the clinic programme since 2017. These are a couple of case studies that they have shared about clients that have been helped by their work.
A client came to us following a relationship breakdown some time ago, but where the client was still facing a number of issues which included: harassment by the former partner; defamatory statements; unwanted communications with the client’s wider family; and an outstanding debt owed to the former partner arising from rent arrears on a property the former partner had sublet to our client in breach of their tenancy agreement with their landlord. We were able to advise our client that their former partner could not pursue our client for their lost deposit as it was the former partner’s breach of tenancy. We also assisted the client in understanding how to evidence payments made to discharge the rent arrears relating to their time at the property and also explained the civil and criminal remedies open to the client in respect of the harassment. We see a lot of clients who are at risk of being taken advantage of owing to their lack of understanding of their legal position and what they are obliged and not obliged to have to deal with. Providing clients with options is essential and this client was given a road map to engage constructively with their former partner.
Our clients, who had suffered racial abuse and violence in their social housing accommodation, sought to move to more suitable accommodation in an area that was safer for them. However, whilst on the waiting list for other accommodation, there was a mix-up in their banding and they were downgraded for allegedly unreasonably refusing/not bidding on suitable alternative accommodation. We were able to spend some time with the clients going through the correspondence and assisting them by writing to the council highlighting the issue and requesting a resolution. There had clearly been a communication barrier, but it was also was clear that the banding and bidding system had failed our clients and a misunderstanding had resulted and our clients were potentially faced with needing to go down the homelessness route rather than being able to stay in their property whilst bidding for others which is what they wanted. By writing to the council concerned, explaining how the situation appeared to have arisen and suggesting ways to resolve the issue, we were able to get the council to reverse their decision and restore our clients’ priority banding for a further period leading to the offer of a suitable property subject to viewing.