Illegally Evicted and Navigating Councils (Eviction series, part 2)
Following my eviction, I managed to find a room in my local area through OpenRent and I contacted the landlord directly, who gave me a viewing on Wednesday evening. The room size is decent, and I would be sharing the place with three other professionals. The only issue with the property is that the living room is small, but the property comes furnished and all bills are included in the rent along with Council Tax.
I have sent a message to the landlord to tell him that I am interested in the property, and he sent over the forms and bank details for the holding deposit.
Meanwhile, my local council has not been helping me to find anywhere to live. I have not heard from my allocated caseworker since Friday, even though he knows I currently have no way of talking to him because I have just lost my phone.
I have sent him emails from the 17th of October onward but each time I have received an auto response saying he is not back until the 18th of October. We’ re now on the 19th and still no word.
The landlord sent me a message today saying he noticed that as yet no payment has been made. Despite this, he is hesitant to open the room up for more viewings as he knows I am interested in the property. I’m now having to stall him, and I have got until tomorrow morning to sort out the payment.
When I finally did manage to get access to a phone that I managed to bother from my brother I called the council to find out where my caseworker was as he has not responded to my emails. When I got through to someone, I explained that I had found a room and needed to find out if I’m paying for the holding deposit myself or if the council can cover this. The worker told me she would contact the duty manager and they would get in touch with me to discuss further. I was then told to call back if I hadn’t heard anything from them by 3.30 pm. I called back at 3.30 pm on the dot to talk to the same worker who now tells me that I need to send the landlord’s details to my caseworker. I kicked off a bit here and said to her,’ I have sent over the details to him, and he has not responded.’ She tells me that I never told her I had sent over the details to the landlord, and added that she says he has been working from home, which sent me over the edge to be honest.
At 4.39 pm, I receive an email from the council’s private rents team asking me for the details on the property and for my contact number. I then receive an email from my long lost caseworker at 4.51 pm telling me that he, along with the private rent worker have been unsuccessfully trying to contact me. He said they both got through to a young woman who said I was not there and did not know me, and that the young woman was rude down the phone and going forward I would have to liaise with the private rents team instead.
The thing is, the only access to a phone I have is my younger brother’s, which is the number I gave to the council. I have not been staying with any young women who could have taken this call – or communicating with any women except my Mum since I got back from Liverpool earlier this month.
It seems evident that they are stalling me as my caseworker knows he has done nothing to support me and is now laying the blame on me being non-contactable, rather than reading the emails I sent him from the 17th of October and getting back to me.
I’m not shocked, but I am relieved that I got his response in writing. I told my caseworker that the number given to them was my brother’s, at which point he admitted that someone must have taken the number down wrong.
I couldn’t make this stuff up and it shows the madness you go through navigating the council system while homeless in the UK. My advice is to get everything done in writing and only call in if you don’t hear from them by the afternoon of the day you expect them to contact you.
You can follow all the correct policies and procedures and still not get anywhere with getting housed. I have had no support with interim temporary accommodation and now have to rely on friends for somewhere to stay. I’m literally beyond fuming and helpless in the situation as I don’t know what action I can take and who will be baring the cost.
Read the next reports in Andrea’s Eviction Series.