By: Pascoe Pleasence, Nigel Balmer, and Catrina Denvir. Published by: The Legal Education Foundation. Published in: June 2015
At the time of the 2011 Census, 8.3 million (or 36 per cent) of households in England and Wales were rented. Thus, the ability of individual citizens to resolve legal problems related to rented housing is a matter of broad societal importance. The study “How People Understand and Interact with the Law” in 2015 was designed to assess how well people understand their rights as renters and the frequency at which they interact with the law in different ways. This report describes the study’s findings.
The report highlights some of the barriers to resolving renter’s legal problems. One of the main barriers seems to be the lack of knowledge regarding the law. The study found that the majority of respondents only felt they knew their rights ‘in part’ or ‘not at all.’ Also, while 88 percent of respondents indicated that they knew something about solicitors (for example, what they do), 60 percent of respondents failed to recognize that solicitors can provide assistance with housing issues.
A second barrier is that most of the respondents (73 percent) chose to handle their problems on their own or obtain some informal advice, without consulting legal experts. Compared to justiciable problems as a whole, this represents a particularly high percentage of people handling problems alone (50 percent of all problems), a lower percentage doing nothing (11 percent of all problems), and a lower percentage seeking advice.