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Housing Law Service

Following government guidance, law service staff are now working from home.  We are unable to receive post. Should you wish to contact us please call 0344 515 2410 (lines open 9am-5pm) or alternatively by email SHLS_Admin@shelter.org.uk

About The Shelter Scottish Housing Law Service

We help people access justice by providing specialist and expert advice and representation on housing law.

Our Core Values

Access to justice: Our aim is to ensure everyone in Scotland facing homelessness or housing difficulties understands their legal rights.

Human rights based approach: We strive to tackle poverty in housing and empower people to exercise their rights. We are dedicated to improving housing conditions, both through litigation in individual cases and on a strategic level.

Empowerment through knowledge sharing: Our solicitors work alongside our advisers, providing them with legal support to help their clients. We also provide legal counsel to our policy team in the drafting of legislation and deliver training to housing professionals.

Our Team

Our team of 8 solicitors and 2 Lay Representatives provide free legal advice and representation to help people with housing issues across Scotland. We cover the following areas of law:

  • Evictions
  • Mortgage repossessions
  • Homelessness
  • Dampness and disrepair
  • Unlawful evictions
  • Abandonments

Our solicitors provide advice and attend court to help people keep their homes, access housing and improve their housing conditions. We have solicitors based in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee.

Our Initiatives

Housing Law and Debt Advice Project

Funded by the Scottish Legal Aid Board, the project aims to help people stave off evictions and repossessions in Tayside, Central Scotland(Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannan) and the Borders. Representation is provided to clients facing heritable court eviction and mortgage repossession actions and also ensures that people who are homeless and have not been able to obtain appropriate alternative accommodation are able to access local advice, assistance and representation. Legal area covered: Debt, Eviction, Mortgage repossession.

StreetLegal

Funded through the Community Fund Street Legal is an innovative partnership between Clan Childlaw and Shelter Scotland. Combining the expertise of both organisations, the project provides free legal advice and representation to young people aged 16 - 25 or families with children up to the age of 18 who are either experiencing, or at risk of homelessness in Edinburgh.

StrEEtAware

StrEEt Aware is a social justice collaboration between JustRight Scotland, the Shelter Scotland Housing Law Service and Streetwork Edinburgh, launched in 2017. We provide free, confidential legal surgeries to EEA nationals who are rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping, on their legal rights in relation to their immigration position, destitution and homelessness, and protection from exploitation.

Humanitarian Initiative

The joint initiative between the legal and third sector and is a free, confidential legal advice services offered by experienced housing and immigration lawyers, at Scottish Refugee Council’s office in Glasgow City Centre every X from A until  B. Interpreters will be available. This initiative will be delivered by Scottish Refugee Council, Shelter ScotlandJustRight ScotlandLegal Services AgencyLatta & Co Solicitors and Govan Law Centre .  They are supported by our third sector partner organisations: Govan Community Project, British Red Cross and ASH Project.

The legal surgery runs only by appointment. To make a referral, please ring the SRC advice line on 0141 223 7979 or send an email to dass@scottishrefugeecouncil.org.uk.

Strategic Litigation

Litigation means taking cases to court. Strategic litigation is a method that can bring about significant changes in the law, practice or public awareness via taking carefully-selected cases to court. The clients involved in strategic litigation have been victims of [wrongs] that are suffered by many other people. In this way, strategic litigation focuses on an individual case in order to bring about social change.

A typical feature of strategic litigation is that cases are brought by individuals to test a legal point that also applies to cases other than just their own. Strategic litigation is sometimes referred to as “impact” or “test case” litigation.

The aims of strategic litigation involve more than simply winning legal arguments in court: test case strategies might seek to create awareness and publicise the cause for which the strategy is mobilised, encourage public debate, set important precedents, achieve change for people in similar situations, and spark policy changes. Shelter Scottish Housing Law Service might considers using strategic litigation where we want to:

  • Enforce the law
  • Clarify the meaning of the law
  • Challenge the law
  • Create new law

Housing & Equality Act Legal Strategy Action Group (#HEALSAG)

Aim:

  1. to develop the law and legal remedies; remedies using the Equality Act in housing and homelessness cases; case study review analysis and discussion;
  2. learning and development (best practice); Identifying strategic issues – where there are recurring issues identified in practice;
  3. linking with the aim to develop strategic litigation;
  4. Raising awareness – developing a knowledge exchange hub where case studies and blogs/articles from members-important to highlight the legal arguments being made in cases, and publicising successes through settlement.

East Community Law Forum

Aim:  

To work collaboratively in delivering access to justice. An informal association of community based legal services in the East of Scotland who support and develop free legal advice in the East of Scotland, using our experience and understanding to ensure our efforts are targeted where they can be most effective and have the greatest impact.  The group believe in the power of legal advice to help improve the lives of people in need. We work to achieve this in two ways:

  • enabling access to justice to individuals in need of advice, are without the means to pay for a lawyer; and
  • brokering 2nd-tier legal advice to small not-for-profit organisations, to support the continuation and expansion of their services to people in need.

Our work is informed by the needs of people, developed in collaboration with stakeholders, and delivered by a network of committed lawyers, volunteers and law students.

Contacting Our Service

Our Law Service is reached by referral through our housing advisors on the helpline and/or one of our referral partners. For more information about your legal rights, first visit our housing advice pages or contact us through our free national help line.

It may be helpful to have the following information to hand:

  • If you rent your home: your landlord's name and address and any letters you've received from your landlord.
  • If you have a mortgage: your mortgage lender's details and any letters you've received from your lender

Our Awards

The Herald Law Awards of Scotland 2019

The Judges' Award recognised Glasgow Social Justice Lawyers, the collective involving Latta & Co, Just Right Scotland, Govan Law Centre, Legal Services Agency and Shelter Scottish Housing Law Service which supported the asylum seekers facing eviction by housing provider Serco.

AUTHORISATION The Shelter Scottish Housing Law Service is the trading name of Fiona McPhail solicitors and has its registered office at Scotiabank House, 6 South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4AW and is regulated with Law Society of Scotland. Our lawyers are subject to the rules and guidance of the Law Society of Scotland.