Member Stories Victoria Barker 16/09/2020

Pictures: Landlord and NHS worker homeless due to evictions ban

For nurse Kelly, the last few months at work helping treat patients at the local hospital and the GP practice where she works have never been busier.

But the shifts in A & E alongside her main job in the GP practice, wearing full protective clothing, are not the only strain Kelly is facing right now.

She is currently homeless, sleeping in a log cabin at the bottom of her parents' garden. There is scarcely anything there, aside from a bed, a small shelving unit and a portable heater to keep Kelly warm as the nights draw in.

Kelly only moved in two weeks ago. Just before then, she declared herself homeless to the council. Before that, she was sofa surfing, sleeping on a friends sofa for several months. While she was offered a bed and breakfast, as a single parent, she doesn't want to be far away from her school age son who has been living with her parents since June. 

Living actually in the family home is out of the question for Kelly-due to the nature of her job she doesn't want to put her son or her family at risk of catching coronavirus.

Things were very different last year. But due to a change in her personal circumstances, in November, Kelly and her son needed to move out of the home she was in, and back into her rental property which she owns in Caerphilly, South Wales.

Before serving notice, Kelly says she gave her tenants a heads up of her intention to do so, and offered to help them find somewhere new to live, explaining she needed to move back into the property herself. 

The tenants appeared understanding at first, and Kelly says they suggested she serve a Section 21, as in their belief they would be able to access social housing more easily. 

Kelly did so, as well as serving a Section 8 notice. But there was an issue.

Captions: Kelly, and the log cabin she is currently sleeping in. 

“When I told them intially about my need to move back into the property, the tenants requested I serve a Section 21, so they could access social housing more easily”, says Kelly. 

The tenants informed Kelly, who had never served notice before, that she had made a slight error on the Section 21 notice, making it invalid, and that she would have to re-serve this.

Kelly says the tenants also owe her three months rent, but this has now been paid through Universal Credit payments since June, and that there is also evidence of damage to the property. 

The tenants have now stayed past the date they were due to leave on both the Section 21 and Section 8 notice. Kelly says she is frustrated, because they are also ignoring her attempts to communicate with them and come to a solution about it.

So for now, the small, cold, log cabin at the bottom of her parents' garden is home. She is currently left waiting for the evictions ban to lift, so she can progress her case through the courts and be able to move back into her own property with her son. 

“I am left relying on the Section 8 notice at the moment”, says Kelly, adding: “But if there’s an issue with the notice for whatever reason, I worry I will be waiting for some more months to get my property back, especially if I have to re-serve notice and comply with the new six month rules, and the amount of other cases that will need to be heard". 

The whole situation is having a massive impact on Kelly's wellbeing.

The NRLA is calling for the evictions ban to lift this weekend, and more support for landlords-and those tenants affected by Covid-19. Specifically:

  • Ensure Local Housing Allowance (LHA) fully covers rent, by lifting it to the 50th percentile of local market rents, convert Universal Credit (UC) advances into grants, and suspend the Shared Accommodation Rate for under-35s.
  • Extend access to government financial support to landlords, especially those totally reliant on rent as their only source of income/pension or cannot benefit from mortgage holidays.
  • Discount landlords’ property as an asset when making a UC claim as it prevents landlords from accessing much-needed support during this crisis.
  • Properly resource and assist landlords with the Pre-Action Protocol to help them navigate a system designed for well trained and resourced housing associations when introduced.
  • Ensure all extended possession notice periods due to expire on 31 March 2021 return to pre-pandemic levels the next day.

Write to Your MP here, and read more about our campaign. 

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker Communications Officer

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the NRLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our news centre, the weekly e-newsletter, and manages and creates content for the association’s social media channels. She also contributes to our members magazine, Property.

See all articles by Victoria Barker