Agaraphobic who has not left her home in 20 years facing eviction due to bedroom tax.

Mrs R, an agoraphobic who has not left her home in 20 years as a result of her condition, is facing eviction after accruing a £1,500 bill due to unpaid bedroom tax.

Mrs R has not been able to set foot outside her home since 1995 when her phobia became so severe it prevented her from leaving the house.

However, she now faces court proceedings and potential eviction from her property after accruing £1,500 worth of arrears due to unpaid bedroom tax.  She has been hit with the tax since her two daughters and her son moved out of the property leaving her and her husband, who is her full-time carer as the only occupants of the three-bedroom house.

If Mrs R attempts to leave her house, or even go for a walk in her back garden she immediately suffers from severe panic attacks.

Mrs R is registered disabled and her income consists of Personal independence Payments.  She received a letter from the Council at the beginning of July 2015 informing her that she owed £1,400 in bedroom tax.  After her daughters moved out she was receiving full Housing Benefit, rather than the amount she was entitled to due to her failure to notify the correct agencies of the change in her circumstances.  Mrs R should have been left with a rent shortfall of £14 per week due to the percentage reduction in Housing Benefit for having two spare bedrooms.  Since the letter the bedroom tax has continued to have effect and she has now racked up over £1,500 in arrears due to the bedroom tax.

Mrs R says, “We use the bedroom for my husband, because I often get sick in the night and I keep him awake, so he sleeps in the spare room.  I told them the room is always in use, but they said it doesn’t make any different because he’s my carer, and the courts said he should live in the same room as me.  I think people like me should be exempt from bedroom tax because I am agoraphobic and can’t leave the house.  Even if they offer me a two bedroom place I wouldn’t be able to get there because I’m agoraphobic, they are discriminating against me because of my illness  How can you expect people to move if they cannot even leave the house? It doesn’t make sense; there is no way I can get out.”

read more here:http://www.swainandco.com/housing/agoraphobic-council-tenant-faces-eviction-for-1500-in-bedroom-tax-related-arrears/

Manchester: Homeless people face jail over city centre tent camps.

A group of homeless people in Manchester face jail after pitching tents in the city centre, the latest episode in a long-running battle between the council and an ever increasing number of rough sleepers.

Six men and one woman are due in court in Manchester on Wednesday, accused of breaking a court order brought by Manchester city council and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). This injunction aims to prevent anyone from pitching a tent in the city to protest against the council’s homelessness policies.

The defendants insist they are innocent and that they were not protesting but simply living on the streets as comfortably as they could. The council sees it differently, accusing them of disrupting residents and businesses in the city centre via vandalism, intimidation and public urination. If the defendants lose they face a fine of up to £5,000 or two years in prison.

Some of those named in the court action had been living for over a month in a makeshift homeless centre dubbed the Ark, underneath the Mancunian Way flyover on Oxford Road on land leased by MMU.

Just one of a number of camps which will greet delegates at this weekend’s Tory party conference in the city, the Ark had portable toilets and a TV powered by a generator, as well as furniture and camp beds donated by the general public. A sign out front declared: “This is not a protest.”

The Ark was cleared by bailiffs on 18 September after the MMU and the council obtained a court order. It followed clearances at other tent camps across the city, including outside the Central Library, in the busy shopping area around St Ann’s Square and by Castlefield nightlife district.

On 3 August the council obtained an unusually wide-reaching injunction from Manchester county court. This stated: “Persons are forbidden from erecting and/or occupying tents or any other moveable temporary forms of accommodation for the purposes of or in connection with protests or similar events arising from or connected with the [council’s] homeless policy” within prescribed city limits.

Following the Ark eviction, the university subsequently erected fences around the dry spot under the bridge where homeless people have slept ever since the flyover was built 50 years ago.

Read more here:http://streetskitchen.co.uk/?p=3267

Tenants are being evicted when they complain about the conditions of their homes.

Tenants are being evicted when they complain about the conditions of their homes.

Kelly and her three kids were sadly evicted from their home after she complained about the floor of their rented house saying it was rotten through. They were just 5 of roughly 42,000 people evicted from their homes through the courts last year.

This is a record number, up 11% from evictions in 2013. This is the first time rental evictions have come up to more than 40,000 per year.

The evictions in England and Wales, London had 15,770 evictions last year, North West England had the second worst and Wales had the least amount of eviction.

It’s not always the end when you get evicted sometimes it’s just the beginning. Kelly’s story is one example of how difficult it is to be one of those 40,000 evictions.

Rotten floors, no kitchen and a broken boiler

 Kelly and her three sons moved into a B&B after being evicted for complaining about repairs.

She said: “We were in private accommodation for over three years. The landlord wanted us out because he didn’t want to do the repairs to the property. It took us 7 months to get a kitchen, and over a year to get a new boiler. We had Environmental Health involved. There were illegal gas safety certificates and the floors were all rotten.”

They took their eviction notice to the council and were placed 80 miles away in another borough: “They told us that if we didn’t take this place we’d have made ourselves intentionally homeless and they wouldn’t help us.”

From one bad accommodation to another…

from: http://www.landlordreferencing.co.uk/forum/discuss/community-forum/the-shocking-stories-behind-britains-surge-in-evictions/

Two million bailiff calls as councils brutalise poor

In the past year, councils in England and Wales have sent bailiffs in to collect debts over two million times.

Ordinary working class people are struggling to get by. Zero-hour contracts, poverty pay and sky-high rents are the norm. Now we face the increasing threat of our own councils – including Labour – calling in the bailiffs!

The most vulnerable in society are being further penalised, and for what crime? Being poor!

Research by the Money Advice Trust shows using bailiffs not only worsens a person’s wellbeing, but actually deepens debts. Elsewhere in this issue of the Socialist, ordinary people respond to lethal benefit cuts. Increased use of bailiffs – up around 16% over the past two years – can only make things worse.

Cuts to council tax benefit are a major contributing factor. Taking property to cover such debts is the reason for most bailiff calls, although in repossession cases they can also evict tenants.

Councils are blaming central government cuts for the increase. This, however, is no excuse.

Instead of doing the Tory government’s dirty work, local authorities should refuse to pass on cuts. The Socialist Party says they must use their platform to lead residents and workers in a fightback.

Local campaigns have already taken it up. Attempted evictions, as a result of the bedroom tax, have been stopped by community campaigners coming together and refusing to let bailiffs in.

read more here: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/21319

Thought the bedroom tax was bad? Let’s talk about cuts to council tax support

More than 2.3 million families have lost their council tax support

After fleeing domestic violence, Eve found a new job and a home for her three children. The youngest was two years old. The pay wasn’t great, as so many families find now, but the situation drastically worsened when her council tax support was cut after April 2013. Eve became one of millions suddenly liable for council tax payments, when previously she would have been exempt due to poverty. Once you miss a payment, within 14 days you can find yourself in court, as Eve did, with a fifth of her income confiscated each month. Then the bailiffs arrived. In a rented, furnished flat, there was nothing to take, but the visits made her contemplate suicide.

Much attention has been paid to the bedroom tax, but remarkably little to changes in council tax. Often they affect the same people: 380,000 have been caught by the bedroom tax and 270,000 by both the bedroom tax and cuts to council tax support. But the scope of the cuts to council tax support are extreme: more than 2.3 million families have lost out, and in the first six months of the policy, almost half a million people were issued court summons for arrears.

And as of yesterday, 250,000 low-income families will see their council tax payments increase substantially because they live in one of the 27 areas that are raising or introducing the minimum payment. Families are expected to pay between 5% and 30% of their total council tax liability – what sounds like a small sum cuts drastically into the day-to-day budgets of people already in entrenched poverty. One woman I spoke to only drank cold water and ate sandwiches rather than spend money making tea or cooking food.

read the rest of this article here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/02/bedroom-tax-cuts-council-tax-support-poor-people

 

Tenant evictions reach six-year high amid rising rents and benefit cuts

Bailiffs in England and Wales evicted more than 11,000 families in the first three months of 2015, 51% higher than in same period five years ago

The number of tenants evicted from their homes is at a six-year high, according to new figures, as rising rents and cuts to benefits make tenancies increasingly unaffordable.

County court bailiffs in England and Wales evicted more than 11,000 families in the first three months of 2015, an increase of 8% on the same period last year and 51% higher than five years ago.

The increase in the number of tenants losing their homes means 2015 is on course to break last year’s record levels. Nearly 42,000 families were evicted from rental accommodation in 2014, the highest number since records began in 2000.

Rental prices have soared in many UK cities but wages failing to keep pace with rising costs and caps to benefits have left many poorer tenants unable to make payments.

Separate figures also published on Thursday showed almost 59,000 households have had their benefits capped in the past two years. Nearly half of those families were in London, where the the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom home is £2,216.

Read the rest of this article here: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/may/14/tenant-evictions-reach-six-year-high-rising-rents-benefit-cuts?

Losing your home: one day at Coventry County Court

Excellent article by Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi. I’ve picked some extracts to show here, and there’s a link to the whole article at the end of this post.

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Recently diagnosed with depression, Gemma is receiving cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of counselling.

Last year three of her children were taken away. When their empty bedrooms were declared spare rooms, she was charged an under-occupancy fee, taken directly from her housing benefit. Since the  bedroom tax, as it’s known, was introduced in 2013, working age claimants who live in social rented housing deemed too large for their needs have lost between 14 and 25 per cent of their housing benefit.

Gemma didn’t have the extra to cover the shortfall in her rent. She fell behind, eventually accruing a debt of nearly £1,748. The housing association landlord has threatened eviction.

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Andrea, a heavily pregnant mother-of-three, sits down at the small desk. She couldn’t find the extra £14 a week to pay her bedroom tax. Now she owes nearly £1000.

The housing association is seeking an outright possession order. If the judge rules against her today, she is likely to be homeless when her baby is born.

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Jocelyn had an agreement with the landlord to pay £20 a fortnight toward rent arrears of £1,100. She paid the money from her Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), which was £72.40 a week. Then, one month ago, she was sanctioned and her JSA money stopped. It is not clear why.

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Read what happened on their day in court here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/rebecca-omoniraoyekanmi/how-to-lose-your-home-one-day-at-coventry-county-court