Mr and Mrs C are another example of clients that DHA given fantastic advice too. In their late 50s / early 60s the couple have no dependent children and were the sole members of the household.
Mrs C suffers from chronic rheumatoid arthritis, whilst this does not affect her mobility it does affect her energy levels and she suffers from fatigue. She had previously applied for Disability Living allowance but the application was refused.
The couple have a secure tenancy for a property with rent set at £106 per week which is inclusive of a £16 per week maintenance charge for heating, water and gas. They were in receipt of Housing benefit which entitled covered the £90 rent in full but didn’t amount to cover the £16 p/w for utilities. Rental arrears were amassed when the couple were financially unable to make up the difference between the contractual rent and the housing benefit entitlement they received.
They were served with a notice from their landlord who had applied to court for possession of the property. Attending the court hearing, they learnt that the judge was initially inclined to suspend possession on the terms that they paid the contractual rent alongside a £5 per week to cover their charges meaning a total of £21 p/w. The couple advised the Judge the most they could afford was £10 p/w, £11 short of the set price. This led to the Judge making an outright possession order, which expired four weeks later. Meaning the couple had 4 weeks to vacate the property or the landlord can ask the courts to evict them.
Luckily the couple received a backdated payment from Job Seekers Allowance of £180 which they paid into the rent account. DHA advised Mr and Mrs C that legally the minimum fee a tenant can pay towards arrears is currently at £3.60 p/w. We advised them to consider their income and expenditure, cutting down on housekeeping including £7.00 on toiletries and £5.00 on cleaning products so that they can afford to pay out of their rental account and to seek advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)
The clients were contacted and informed us that they were:
Clients confirm paying £84.93 per month towards rent account and the case was resolved.
Mr and Mrs C spoke of the quality and clarity of our advice, our evasive action was of immense value to the couple at a time when they were “vulnerable and confused”. Going on to say that “DHA was the only organisation we called on who truly earned their colours – a wonderfully professional organisation, employing outstanding individuals”.
Jan’s story exemplifies just how DHA’s advice service really can make a difference to people’s lives. Jan and his family were living happily in a rented property until the landlord changed the locks without notice or apparent reason. Ineligible for legal aid, the advice from DHA proved vital in getting them the justice they deserved. Here is Jan’s story:
Originally from Poland, Jan, his wife Alina and their young son moved to the UK in 2008. The family quickly settled in to their new life; they moved into a private rented house in Derby and Jan began to work as a painter and decorator.
This all changed one day in early 2009. While Jan was out at work, their landlord let himself into the house and told Alina to leave the property. Shocked and confused at this unprovoked instruction Alina tried to protest, but the landlord was insistent. He physically removed Alina and her son from their home.
When the three family members returned to the house later the locks had been changed. They didn’t know what to do – all of their money and belongings were inside the house, they had no support network and didn’t speak very much English. With nowhere else to go the family ended up spending the following two nights sleeping rough in a local park.
On the third day Jan sought advice from DHA. Recognising this as an emergency situation the advice team immediately arranged for the family to stay in one of the supported houses usually used for single homeless people.
The team pursued the case to County Court, who granted an injunction instructing the landlord to allow the family back into the property. This could have ended the situation, but the landlord blocked the family’s access to the house thereby breaching the injunction. Continuing to fight for the family’s rights, the legal team prepared to take the case to trial. As evidence against him was gathered, the landlord chose to withdraw from the trial and asked to settle. The judge granted compensation and damages amounting to £9,500 plus all legal costs incurred, estimated at £17,000.
The family are now once again happy and settled. They had been ineligible for any state benefits or statutory homelessness services. Without any other support the backing and persistence of DHA’s legal team proved to be a lifeline for Jan and his family.
Thanks to the professionalism and hard work of our Solicitors and Caseworkers there are many stories like Jan’s of individuals and families who have truly benefited from DHA’s advice service.
Case Study: Mrs W
Mrs W had 2 children and an income slightly too high for legal aid. She ended her tenancy agreement in line with the break clause within her Tenancy Agreement, to move to a bigger house. The Landlord refused to repay her deposit in lieu of the remainder of the Tenancy Agreement.
DHA negotiated with the Landlord with threat of legal action.
Outcome: The Tenancy deposit was then returned in full.
Case Study – Mr. and Mrs. M
Mr. and Mrs. M, both in their 80’s, are living in a house owned by their son.
They handed over their life savings to their son on the basis that he would buy outright a property for them to live in, at a nominal monthly rent. They found out that their son had mortgaged the property when he was made Bankrupt and the creditors obtained a Possession Order against the property in January. Both our clients’ health had seriously deteriorated worrying about losing their home of 9 years, with Mr. M being very poorly after suffering a number of strokes.
Outcome: We were able to persuade the Bank not to enforce the Order and to pursue other assets. Mr. and Mrs. M have been able to keep their home.
Mr. and Mrs. M, like many of our clients, were not eligible to receive free advice and without the support of DHA, would have lost their home.
Case Study Mr P:
Asked us for advice and assistance after falling behind on his mortgage payments as a result of being made redundant and this had resulted in his lender initiating possession proceedings against him. He lived at the property with his six year old daughter. He was concerned, that he would lose his property and the joint custody as he would have nowhere for his daughter to stay.
DHA supported Mr P to make an application for assistance from the Mortgage Rescue Scheme as he was not able to afford the monthly mortgage repayment and was struggling to find work.
DHA represented Mr P in Court where we prevented his Mortgage and Secured Loan lenders from obtaining an Outright Possession Order in relation to his property; which was in more negative equity than the scheme would normally allow.
The case concluded with Mr P retaining possession of the property which he now rents from a local housing association. His Daughter continues to live with him.
Case Study Mr & Mrs S:
Who lived in a property rented from a local housing association with her husband and two children. She approached DHA for assistance because her front and rear doors at the property had become rotten and were not securing the property. She had made efforts to resolve the issue herself and had requested on numerous occasions that her landlord repair the doors.
We contacted the landlord on behalf of Mr & Mrs S and reminded him of his legislative and contractual obligations and the concerns of Mrs S’s family. We explained that as a result of the rotten doors family S were worried about their personal safety, especially the safety of the children as well as their belongings as the doors were not secure.
The case concluded with the landlord agreeing to repair both the front and rear doors at the property. Mr & Mrs S were not eligible for Legal Aid and could not afford a Solicitor.
Case Study: Mrs B
Mrs B is 88 years old and a widow, living alone and had a bad fall due to the condition of the internal Road.
The owners had not maintained the roads or the overgrown trees where she lived. Mrs B and other residents kept reporting this to the owners and Environmental Health, but nothing was being dealt with.
DHA made enquiries to the relevant bodies and advised Mrs B to instruct a Public Liability Solicitor, because of the injuries from her fall due to the state of the road.
Outcome: Environmental Health forced the owners to put up a notice stating works to the trees and road will be completed by November.
836,000 unemployed for > 12 months