Housing law includes a range of landlord and tenant issues, covering various areas of law from criminal damage to breach of contract. It also covers possession, forfeiture, homelessness, unlawful eviction, disrepair, major works charges, housing fitness, regulation and licensing.
Types of tenancy
There are different types of tenancy agreements landlord can choose from:
- Assured shorthold tenancy (AST)
- Assured tenancy
- Non-assured tenancy
- Excluded tenancy
- Company let
- Regulated tenancy
What does a housing lawyer do?
Housing lawyers act for plaintiffs or defendants with regard to litigation and their clients include private individuals, Local Authority landlords and Housing Associations.
Day-to-day activities include interviewing clients, negotiating settlements, advocating on behalf of clients and briefing Counsel. They also prepare documents for court, by obtaining expert witness statements for example.
Defence work includes dealing with breaches of tenancy agreements, non-payment of rent, damage to property and antisocial behaviour allegations, which may lead to possession proceedings.
Acting on behalf of the plaintiff, sees lawyers working on disputes around property disrepair, illegal eviction, homelessness or harassment cases against a landlord.
What areas of work does a housing lawyer have?
Housing lawyers get involved in these areas of work:
- Mortgage possession cases
- Private landlords disputes
- Harassment and illegal evictions
- Cases involving anti-social behaviour
- Homelessness cases for both families and for single person
- Possession actions including breaches of tenancy and housing benefits problems.
How to become a housing lawyer
If you qualify through the SQE, you will also need to complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). To prepare for the SQE, we recommend studying one of our SQE courses, which have been designed to give you the knowledge and skills for a successful career as a solicitor.
If you’re eligible to study the LPC, you will need to get a two-year training contract with a law firm. To find out what route is right for you, see our Becoming a Solicitor page.
Once you complete your two-year training contract or QWE, you can apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to be admitted as a solicitor.
To become a barrister, you will need to have completed an undergraduate law degree, or if you are a non-law graduate, a conversion course, before completing the Bar Practice Course (BPC). You will then need to secure pupillage.
What skills are required?
Clients may be distressed, angry or frightened, so the ability to gather evidence and give clear advice through good interviewing and people skills is vital. A non-judgmental attitude and desire to help improve people’s lives are skills that are expected of a housing lawyer.
The ability to work as a team is required as the work involves liaising with people in addition to clients such as Local Authority Housing Officers, doctors and psychiatrists, as well as lawyers from other departments in the same firm.
Due to the number of people involved in each case, lawyers must have strong time-management skills and be able to pull everything together in order to meet legal deadlines (e.g. deadlines on appeals).
The Housing Law Practitioners Association (HLPA) – Useful information on housing law and you can join the HLPA Junior Group.
Inside Housing – News, views and jobs for those interested in social housing work.
Shelter – Information on voluntary opportunities at a charity which covers homelessness, eviction and repossession, housing benefit, renting and leasehold.
The Homes and Communities Agency – The national housing and regeneration agency provides useful statistics and information.