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Jane Case Study

Case Study

“Jane” (not her real name) a single Mum with two children, first met with HOPE’s Housing Advisor in July 2015.  She was not happy living at her current home, her landlord had sold the property, with her as a sitting tenant. She found her new landlord to be unresponsive and indeed intimidating when she highlighted potential repairs and potentially dangerous equipment.  HOPE’s Housing Advisor supported her to document the issues and to write formally to the Landlord through his agent, with a list of the issues and repairs.

For a period, Jane did not come back to HOPE for support, because at this point, she was unsure whether she would remain at her home, as her partner was looking for a property into which they may move together.

Subsequently, in January 2016, Jane again came to HOPE for support as she had been served a Section 8 (Eviction Notice) by her landlord, for non-payment of rent. Jane explained to HOPE’s Housing Advisor that Bassetlaw District Council were refusing to pay her Housing Benefit, as they did not have a copy of a Tenancy Agreement between the Landlord and Jane.  This was despite the fact that Jane had explained to the Council that she had repeatedly asked the landlord and his Letting Agent for a new tenancy (required from when he purchased the property), but none had been produced.

HOPE’S Housing Advisor supported Jane and attended a meeting (of February 2016) with the Council, to try to get the matter resolved.  BDC again stated that they required a Tenancy Agreement, but would once again write to the Letting Agent and Landlord, requesting this be provided.  The Council was made aware of the threat of eviction and the court hearing date, but informed Jane that they could not help to rehome her, unless or until the Court served her with an eviction notice.

The Section 8 Notice informed Jane she had to appear in court, to explain why the rent was in arrears, and that her eviction was subject to this hearing.  HOPE’S Housing Advisor supported Jane at court and was alongside her duty Solicitor. Jane explained to her Solicitor, that the Council had agreed to clear the arrears apart from four weeks, which was their normal practice with regard to Housing Benefit awards.  Jane’s Solicitor explained to Jane that, in her opinion, because her Landlord had not undertaken the requested repairs, Jane had the right to counter-sue her Landlord, and this would be her response at the hearing.

At the hearing, the Magistrate heard both arguments and, due to the Landlord not having legal representation, decided to adjourn the case until April 2016.  However, he did order Jane to start paying off the arrears at £40 per month, which was an extremely challenging financial commitment for her.

On leaving the Court and in the presence of HOPE’s Housing Advisor, Jane’s Landlord became aggressive with her demanding to know what these repairs were.  HOPE’S Housing Advisor explained to the Landlord that he had been informed what these were, in writing through his Letting Agent, as Jane did not have his personal/home address. The Landlord suggested this hearing was the first he knew about the repairs, and then stormed off.

Throughout February March and April, HOPE’S Housing Advisor supported Jane, and met again with the Council and with her Solicitor, to find a way forward.  Plus, Jane was helped to apply for Social Housing as she was now expecting another baby.  All the upset and uncertainty left Jane suffering with anxiety and depression and, this was compounded by her former partner, who had recently ended their relationship.  She was struggling to cope with the matters whilst now on her own.

In April 2016, HOPE’S Housing Advisor supported Jane to attend Court for the 2nd time.  This hearing was held before a different Magistrate, who again adjourned the case (this time until August 2016) requiring feedback from a survey of the state and repair of the property, prior to making a judgement on the eviction.

Jane became very upset and explained to her Solicitor that her baby was due in August 2016, she was unclear how that would impact especially if she was unwell and could not make the next Court appearance?  The Solicitor agreed to look to arrange for the hearing to be moved back until September.

On their journey home, Jane and HOPE’s Housing Advisor agreed that they would step-up their search for somewhere else for Jane to live.  Shortly thereafter, Hope’s Housing Advisor, found one private landlord (with whom HOPE has extensively worked with in the past) had a property becoming available within the next four-to-six weeks – Jane wished to take-up this offer.

Discussion with Jane’s Solicitor confirmed that this route may well be a solution to the eviction.  The Solicitor believed that her case would be dropped if Jane moved out, as her Landlord would receive the disputed rent through Housing Benefit and her debt cleared.  Jane would then need to decide if she wanted to continue with the counter-sue matter.

Now, in June 2016, HOPE’s Housing Advisor has supported Jane to move into her new home, the previous court case has ended.  They have liaised with her new Landlord and helped resolve her revised benefit claim.

Without HOPE’s support, it is likely that Jane would have been evicted from her former home, along with her two children.  She would have suffered much more intimidation and harassment from her then Landlord.  And, without the personal knowledge or appreciation of the necessary legislation, she would have been unable to challenge her status quo.  As a result, she would have remained in that house, which was unfit for purpose, until being evicted and then having to present in crisis and homeless at the council offices.

August 2016 Jane gave birth and said ‘to bring my son home to my new house was lovely, I felt happy and secure. It has made a huge difference to me and my family. My older son is now more settled at home and school. I can’t thank Hope enough for the help they provided us.’