'Novice landlords' spark complaints
'ACCIDENTAL landlords' renting out their homes to meet their mortgage expenses have led to a surge in complaints by tenants.
The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) says it has recorded a "striking rise" in calls from people querying housing and landlord/tenant law due to the novice landlords.
FLAC, which has campaigned for debt law reform for more than 10 years, said it has recorded an almost 70pc surge in queries over housing as well as landlord and tenant issues.
"This reflects in particular the increase in the number of 'accidental landlords' – people renting out their houses purely because of a need to meet mortgage expenses rather than make a living from their investment," said FLAC, which launches its annual report today.
The organisation, which has welcomed new personal insolvency laws introduced by Justice Minister Alan Shatter, said that half of all debt queries to FLAC in 2012 related to mortgage arrears.
Noeline Blackwell, FLAC's Director General, said that there were disappointments in the ultimate shape of the legislation, particularly the retention of a right to veto for the main creditors in insolvency schemes.
"The fact that there will be a variety of mechanisms to deal with severe indebtedness is an important step for those who are desperate," said Ms Blackwell.
Up to 13,000 people accessed free legal advice in some 73 local FLAC centres last year.
Legal aid queries to FLAC's helpline rose by some 35pc, with more consumers inquiring about negligence and personal injury matters.
At the end of last year, more than 5,000 people were waiting for a first appointments with a waiting solicitor.
Family law remains a key issue for the public, with one-in-four callers to the FLAC phoneline inquiring about divorce and separation as well as custody, access and guardianship.
Employment law accounted for more than 15pc of queries, with almost one in 10 relating to and credit and debt law.
FLAC, which promotes equal access to justice, recorded a 10pc increase in neighbour disputes and queries about wills as well as an 11pc increase in solicitor-client disputes.