Founders Resiliency Stories:

Anika Legal

The team at Anika. Noel Lim (back,centre) is  an alumni of ygap First Gens Program, November 2018 cohort

The spread of COVID-19 has led to unprecedented challenges for Victorian renters and landlords.  In response to this, ygap First Gens alumni venture, Anika Legal is stepping up to provide free online legal advice to Victorian tenants who are experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 and are in need of rent-reductions.

 “We’ve already begun hearing positive feedback stories – in one case a renter received a 50% rent reduction!” ygap First Gens alumni and Anika’s CEO and co-founder, Noel Lim remarked.

The ygap First Gens team spoke with Anika Legal’s CEO and co-founder, Noel Lim about the impact of the pandemic on their venture, how Anika Legal is supporting Victorian renters  and their vision for a world beyond COVID-19. 


How has Covid-19 affected Anika Legal? 

“As we were already a predominantly remote organisation that provided virtual legal services and virtual legal education, Anika was well-positioned to adapt to the effects of COVID-19. As soon as lockdown laws were announced, Anika had an emergency meeting to identify how best we could help. Within two weeks we launched our COVID-19 Rent Reduction service. With renters and universities being hit with restrictive self-isolation policies, the demand for both legal service and legal education sky-rocketed. As the Anika team is already well acquainted with working remotely, the team was eager and able to meet the increased client and university demand!”


What support is Anika Legal providing to those affected by COVID-19?

“In the wake of widespread financial insecurity, Anika sought to assist in any way we could. Given our usual scope is assisting residential renters to get repairs, we thought our services may be well suited to assisting renters facing financial hardship to negotiate a rent reduction. 

Within less than a month of launching our service, we have been stunned by the number of enquiries we’ve had. We’re approaching our 50th client and it appears the need for our product will continue to increase. Eventually we hope to further develop this service so that every Victorian renter facing hardship can access the legal assistance they need to successfully negotiate a win-win rent reduction with their landlord, helping provide security to vulnerable members of our community. We’ve already begun hearing positive feedback stories – in one case a renter received a 50% rent reduction!”


What have been the challenges you’ve faced?

“Our greatest challenge has been continuing to meet the increased client demand with a significant reduction to available funding as a result of COVID-19. The Anika team is passionate about providing access to justice, now more than ever. Continuing to do that with less funding has meant we’ve had to look for new sources of funding, and to consider what is the most impactful use of the resources we do have.”

What are the key ingredients for overcoming challenges?

“Asking for help. As a virtual legal service in the tenancy space, Anika is perfectly placed to assist the hundreds of thousands of Victorian renters who are struggling to maintain their housing security as they experience severe financial hardship from this pandemic. Being a startup, Anika is also able to move quickly, as demonstrated by the rapid launch of our COVID-19 Rent Reduction service. Anika is uniquely placed to provide relief to vulnerable communities in these tough times, so we’ve reached out to individuals and organisations who can help us, help those who need it most.”


How have you been able to adapt so fast in the face of a pandemic?

“Being a remote startup with a team incredibly passionate about providing access to justice is the perfect combination for moving quickly to adapt to the unexpected. The keys to launching our COVID-19 Rent Reduction service so quickly were worked on from day 1 – to have a team with compassion for the vulnerable Australians experiencing hardship because of COVID-19, and a culture of curiosity to constantly challenge the way things are done, embrace change, and innovate.”


What does a post covid-19 world look like for Anika?

“A world where legal services and university law schools understand and embrace the effectiveness and importance of virtual legal service and virtual legal education. Anika’s client feedback clearly demonstrates that being able to access legal services remotely significantly improves the experience. Anika’s student feedback demonstrates that law students have so much to learn about being lawyers in an evolving legal industry which isn’t taught during a traditional law degree. COVID-19 has made the ability to do both of those things remotely painfully clear. Anika deeply hopes that a post COVID-19 world is a world where legal services and law schools see the importance of virtual services for their users, and embrace a new, innovative way of doing things.”

Anika Legal is a free online legal service that helps vulnerable Victorian renters get their properties repaired. In addition to providing legal assistance to people who can’t access it, Anika also provides practical legal education to law students. 

In November 2018, Noel Lim, co-founder of Anika Legal participated in the ygap First Gens program.