Thursday 29 September 2016

Worried calls about housing to free legal advice centres surge by 80pc

Sam Griffin

Published 07/07/2015 | 02:30

There was an 80pc increase in the number of calls relating to housing rights made to the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) last year
There was an 80pc increase in the number of calls relating to housing rights made to the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) last year

There was an 80pc increase in the number of calls relating to housing rights made to the Free Legal Advice Centre (FLAC) last year.

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The organisation, which promotes equal access to justice and advocacy services, says the sharp increase in housing queries last year indicates that more work needs to be done to inform people of their rights.

"Given that 2013 had seen an increase of 83.5pc in this area, this demonstrates a continued upward trend which began in 2012 and reflects a real need for detailed legal information on the topic," FLAC said yesterday as it launched its 2014 report.

In total, the organisation helped 28,000 people last year, with 15,000 calls received on the FLAC telephone hotline.

One-fifth of calls related to family law, particularly divorce and separation, while calls relating to housing accounted for almost 15pc of contacts. Other frequent queries centred on credit and debit law, legal services and employment law.

FLAC also operates 81 free legal advice centres where nearly 14,000 people sought advice. This was a 3pc drop on 2013.

However, queries relating to housing and landlord/tenant rights actually rose by 4pc and comprised 6pc of all queries.

That and neighbour disputes were the only two topics to show an increase in contacts at the local centres in 2014.

FLAC analyst Paul Joyce said recent changes allowing the courts to review unreasonable refusals by creditors of insolvency arrangements were "welcome". But he warned they need to be enacted quickly to prevent further home repossessions.

"FLAC remains concerned that despite these reforms, many over-indebted people will still not be able to access the advice and support they need to reach a fair resolution."

Irish Independent

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