Brighton Advice Centre

BHT’s Brighton Advice Centre works throughout Brighton & Hove and provides the following services:

Specialist Housing Advice

Court Duty Scheme
Offering emergency advice at court for people facing eviction

Webcam Advice Service

Immigration Legal Service

Specialist Housing Advice

BHT Advice Centre

Since April 2013, legal aid (which funds some of the work undertaken at Brighton Advice Centre), can now only help with housing problems that meet the following criteria:

  • defending rent possession proceedings
  • unlawful eviction
  • disrepair that causes a serious risk to health
  • help with homelessness (whether actual or threatened)
  • court proceedings for housing related anti-social behaviour
  • injunctions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997

People accessing advice at the Brighton Advice Centre must be eligible for legal aid. If they are, they will be entitled to legal advice.

Please contact the Brighton Advice Centre reception team using the details below to find out if you are eligible.

You can also click here to use the eligibility calculator

brighton-advice-centre-02To receive help under the legal aid scheme you must bring the following to your appointment:

  • proof of your income for the past calendar month (e.g. your last payslip, a letter confirming your entitlement to benefits, bank statement covering the last month)
  • if you have a partner you must bring proof of their income as well
  • proof of your capital or savings for each account you have in the form of an up to date statement or passbook

In exceptional circumstances, you may not need to provide these documents if the help you need is an emergency and you cannot obtain them.

How to access the service
For an appointment call:

01273 234737

Or call in during reception times between:

Monday to Friday from 9am12.30pm or 1.30pm4.30pm.

If you would like some legal housing advice then come along to one of our drop in sessions:

Monday to Wednesday from 9.15am12.30pm

To contact us via email

Please click here to email the specialist housing advice team

Reception

Community Base

113 Queen’s Road

Brighton

BN1 3XG

Court Duty Scheme

brighton-law-courts_W300The Court Duty Scheme provides last-minute emergency advice for people facing eviction who have a court hearing.

A specialist Housing Advisor from BHT attends the County Court in Brighton when repossession cases are being heard.

However, we would strongly recommend you contact BHT’s Brighton Advice Centre as soon as you are given notice of possession by your landlord.

This service is available to all tenants facing eviction or repossession who have a hearing listed on that day. Our Housing Adviser or Solicitor might be very busy on the day, so you need to arrive at court about an hour before your hearing is listed.

When you arrive, ask at the court for the BHT Housing Advisor.

Webcam Advice Service

webcam advice service

BHT’s Webcam Advice Service offers specialist advice on housing and benefits issues from a computer, tablet or smartphone. The service provides advice through the internet using Skype or any other digital means that suit our clients.

Residents of Brighton & Hove are able to access this service from the comfort of their own home and at a convenient time to them. People come to the service with a variety of queries relating to housing and benefits, including advice about disrepair, deposits, appeals, EAA workers and benefits, and housing benefit issues.

How to access the service
Book an appointment

The Digital Inclusion project dispenses housing advice by webcam and email.

Booking an appointment is easy. Hour-long webcam appointments are currently limited to Tuesdays between 12noon and 5pm, with a view to increasing the availability of appointments within the near future.

Appointments can often be made for the same week, so clients do not have to wait to get the advice they need.

Click here to visit the Advice Brighton & Hove website appointments page

  1. Choose a day and time convenient to you
  2. Enter basic contact information and notes about the housing or benefit issue

Once an appointment is booked a Digital Advice and Inclusion Officer will email you to confirm the appointment and provide simple instructions about how the appointment will be conducted.

After the webcam appointment is conducted the Adviser will email the client with an advice letter and any further instructions on the matter. There may be casework resulting from appointments, and this is discussed and agreed on a case-by-case basis.

The Webcam Advice Service aims to be as flexible as possible and if the above procedure is not convenient or possible for the individual, the service will attempt to arrange an alternate means of providing the advice.

Write to us

Webcam Advice Service

Community Base

113 Queens Road

Brighton

BN1 3XG

Visit the website

Click here to visit the Advice Brighton & Hove website appointments page

Email us

Click here to email Advice Brighton & Hove

Immigration Legal Service

ILSThe Immigration Legal Service (ILS) provides advice and representation, under the Legal Aid scheme, in all areas of asylum and human rights law relating to Article 3 of the ECHR.

In addition we can provide advice and representation in some areas of Immigration law namely, bail applications, applications made by victims of trafficking, some Domestic Violence cases, and for preparation for a Judicial Review challenge.

In April 2013 Legal Aid for all other areas of immigration law and Article 8 (private and family life) was taken ‘out of scope’ which means it is no longer available.

It is currently still possible to apply for Legal Aid for certificated Judicial Review work in all areas of Immigration and asylum law, and ILS can assist in identifying these cases.

Advice and representation is provided by specialist solicitors and caseworkers to those who are financially eligible for Legal Aid.

We represent clients at all stages of the asylum process, and in bail, trafficking or domestic violence cases, from the initial application to appeals before the first tier and the upper tribunal. We also represent clients in applications for judicial review in the upper tribunal and administrative court in all areas of asylum and immigration law.

We also represent in onward appeals to the higher courts. We also represent clients in matters relating to asylum support, unlawful detention and in the European Court of Human Rights.

We can offer appointments for more complex matters where Legal aid is available for:

  1. Advice and representation in asylum and article 3 applications.
  2. Preparation and representation at asylum and article 3 appeals.
  3. Advice and representation in Bail, Domestic violence cases and for those who have been found to be the victims of trafficking and preparation and representation at Appeals
  4. Advising on the merits of making an application for Judicial Review.
  5. Advice, assistance and representation in the High Courts.

We will organise professional interpreters when necessary.

Home visits can be arranged if you are not able to come to the office.

Our free casework service is available to people who qualify for Legal Aid or who are on a low income and live in the South East.

This will depend on your financial circumstances. To help us decide whether you are eligible for Legal Aid We will need to see evidence of your means (income and capital) for the three last months, and that of your partner, if you have one.

Contact details

BHT are not currently able to provide the Immigration Telephone Helpline.

We are only able to assist people who are eligible for Legal Aid, namely those who are applying for asylum, or come within the following exceptions:

  • spouses who are suffering domestic violence,
  • bail
  • judicial review work

To contact us to see if you are eligible for legal aid and to make an appointment:

Click here to email the Immigration Legal Service

or call into our reception at:

Community Base, 117 Queens road, Brighton BN1 3XG

and leave your name, phone number and the nature of your query.

One of our caseworkers will contact you as soon as they are able.

If you require an appointment at our Hastings / St Leonards on Sea office then please make this clear in your email.

Real Life Story

BHT Advice recently helped Jose to keep his home, as was facing homelessness having fallen into rent arrears.

Jose owed his Housing Association landlord nearly £2,500, had become very ill and hadn’t been out of the house for nearly three months except to the corner shop. He had lost his benefits as the DWA said he was fit for work. Jose desperately wanted to work but he got so nervous at interviews that he couldn’t get a job. Then Jose’s father then unexpectedly died and his anxiety got so bad that he couldn’t leave the house.

Jose’s first trip out further than the corner shop was to Brighton County Court, which was where we met him as part of BHT’s County Court Duty Scheme. He was anxious that he would become homeless that night.

After reassuring Jose BHT represented him at the hearing where we managed to persuade the judge not to make any court order so that Jose had time to sort himself out. The Housing Association were not too happy but the judge agreed with us.

We were able to work with others to get Jose to the doctors to get a report to show the DWP why he was not fit for work, and we helped him get housing benefit to pay his rent. An arrangement was made with the landlords to pay off the arrears.

When the matter came back to Court, we persuaded the Judge not to make a Possession Order as everything had been sorted out. Jose was now back on track and still in the flat that had been his home for the past 24 years.

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Richardson’s Yard Interviews – Phoenix

Can you start off by telling me how you have found the last six months since moving into Richardson’s Yard?

Yes, its been really good, its was quite challenging to adjust to to start with. When we first moved in, the furniture was still being put together.

The space is so unique that it was a bit difficult to try and figure out where the bedroom would go etc. I have settled in really well now. It has been a bit cold, because I guess, at the end of the day, I am living in a 40 ft. square box and it can be a bit cold. We have had some problems with the heating and so I have bought a new heater with a timer. It’s also taken some time to get used to the electricity because it was running out really quickly. Its just lots of tweaks and adjustments. But living up in the 5th floor is amazing, the light comes through so that heats this flat up really well. Everyone is really friendly here, we don’t talk as much as we probably should but we have that neighbourhood thing where everyone says hello. I think there were some problems at the start where people were having parties but yeah, it has gone really well.

Did you have any reservations about moving into Richardson’s Yard?

I was a little concerned but also excited.

I was concerned because it seemed to be taking a long time to get them finished and the moving date was moved. I was wondering what I was coming into. I knew fairly early on that I would be living on the top floor and that was great because I don’t think I would want to be any further down. I like being up high and having the quiet. I knew we would get a lot of interest from the press and I had some reservations about the slant that the media used that Richardson’s Yard was a place for the homeless. It seemed to have a negative slant and it seemed that local residents were a bit adverse to it. But now it seems to be the complete opposite and people are really positive about it, it’s been a really good experience.

Where were you living before Richardson’s Yard?

I was in a private housing association in Kemptown which was interesting and challenging in its own way because the people you live with came with problems of their own.

I was there for 10 months. There were support workers on hand to help us. It’s nice now to have my own space because in the old place we shared a kitchen and a bathroom which I found difficult.

You can stay at Richardson’s Yard for up to two years. Its early days but do you have plans for life after Richardson’s Yard?

The ultimate plan is to save a deposit and a months rent so that I can move into my own place. The centre of Brighton is too expensive so I plan to move to the fringes of town.

Because I work, the rent here is more expensive than I anticipated and I am finding it quite hard to budget but it’s good to have the two years here so I don’t feel like I have to panic. As long as I am putting away little bits then I will be fine.

Since you have been here, has Richardson’s Yard made a difference to your life?

Yes, I think having my own space has been amazing.

I have suffered with generalised anxiety for most of my life and I get very nervous in situations and I think being here and having my own space and having the sun beaming through my windows has really helped to relieve the tension and the stress which has branched out into other areas of my life like my work life and my relationship with my mum. Its like a ripple effect, this has been the pebble and the ripples have come into other areas of my life.

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Richardson’s Yard Interviews – Tristan

How have you found the last six months since moving into Richardson’s Yard?

It’s been really good.

It’s been nice being able to pick herbs from out of the front and put it in your cooking in the evening. I have met some nice people; I had my neighbour over for dinner last night. The location is great and you can get to everywhere easily. Town is just a short walk away and the train station. The space is really big and I can have my daughter in here and even if it is lashing down with rain she can tear around and its not too noisy. I like it.

Before you came to Richardson’s Yard did you have any reservations?

I thought it would be more community spirited than it is, I thought it would happen naturally but actually I think you have to make it happen.

Everyone says hello to each other but I thought people would help each other out more and be more thoughtful. I hoped there would be book clubs and things like that but I think this will happen in time. I think a lot of people are getting into the gardening idea that is happening here and hopefully that will bring people together more.

Where were you before Richardson’s yard?

I lived in Hove with a landlord and I assumed I had the same rights as a tenant but it turns out that because I lived with the landlord as a lodger I had less rights and I could be evicted without any notice or reason.

I went to Brighton Housing Trust about it and they said I had no rights but they had places available here at Richardson’s Yard. I stayed with a friend for a few months while I attended their (BHT) workshops and built up my portfolio and then managed to secure a place here.

You can stay here for up to two years but you said that you weren’t planning to stay for that long. What are your plans?

The flat is lovely and it is a lot better than staying on someone’s sofa.

You aren’t encroaching on anybody and you have all the essentials you need to get by such as a bed and a sink, central heating and a fridge but it’s not a home. You couldn’t turn this into a home where you could have lots of friends over, there isn’t enough space and you only have one worktop for draining and cooking and prep. It’s a great idea because you don’t want people to stay for too long. It’s a short term solution and its great for that. I will use this and get the best out of it but it also gives me a reason to plan my next move. I want to move into a housing coop where the rent is cheap and everyone works together as a community.

Do you think living at Richardson’s Yard has helped you in anyway?

I have never lived on my own since leaving my parents home before so that has been quite an experience.

I have always been quite sociable and lived in shared houses. Living on your own has been quite isolating but that is good in its own way. It has encouraged me to meet my neighbours. Living at Richardson’s Yard has been a really great experience, I have really enjoyed it.

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Richardson’s Yard Interviews – Alan

How have you found the last four months at Richardson’s Yard?

Brilliant but also a bit weird.

I have come from supported housing so the things that I enjoy such as living independently are also a bit weird because I am used to lots of people being around and it’s hard to adjust to being on my own, that’s the strange part of being here. I am used to having seven or eight people around, sort of barging in and making a nuisance of themselves which I had got used to but now I don’t I really like it and I am enjoying the space but it is strange. So far it’s brilliant, touch wood!

Before you moved in did you have any reservations about living at Richardson’s Yard?

Yes definitely. I hated the idea if living in a shipping container.

As soon as the idea was mentioned to me and there was the possibility of me being put forward to live here I thought there is no way you are putting me in a box and it took ages to come around to the idea. I don’t think it was until the second workshop that Steve Coulson ran that I started to think hang on a minute, this is pretty good. I started to look at the plans and on the internet at projects in Holland and my enthusiasm really grew.

You can stay her for up to two years, do you have any plans for what you will do after Richardson’s Yard?

I am going to reapply for the council and hopefully get a band B.

In the mean time I am playing off my debts and saving for private accommodation in case I can’t get housed by the council.

Has being at Richardson’s Yard helped you with your plans for the future?

Yes. Anyone who has been homeless or in supported housing or hostels knows that you just want your own space.

Often people in this position aren’t actually ready for their own space and I wasn’t, but at the time it is all you want. When they said it would be a two year stop gap period I wasn’t that keen but having thought about it, it’s actually a good opportunity to get myself sorted and to pay my debts off. I can save up, I can start living properly without all this weight on my shoulders. Hopefully, once I have saved enough, I will have a year to find somewhere new to live.

Has your life improved since being at Richardson’s Yard?

I have depression and post traumatic distress disorder and I realise they really need sorting out.

I was drinking heavily before I came here and I have stopped that now but living on your own, sitting with my own thoughts without any distractions can be challenging so on a personal level I realise I need help in those areas. On a housing level everything is OK, everything is pretty cool.

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