That is, however, unless they determine that we have made ourselves “intentionally homeless”.
Why would anyone make themselves intentionally homeless you might say? And I’d be inclined to agree. But if the council investigate the reason your landlord issued a s.21 Notice, depending on what the landlord tells them the Council may decide that you are responsible for your own impeding homelessness.
If they find you are responsible - and that you are therefore intentionally homeless - then the help that they offer will be limited.
So what can constitute intentional homelessness?
Well, Shelter explain it here on their website:
Essentially, if you do something or fail to do something that results in being evicted, then chances are they’re going to find you intentionally homeless.
You do have the right to have your side of events heard. You also have a right to appeal the decision. And it’s clearly an objective of most councils to limit the help they have to offer, because it costs money and they don’t have endless supplies of money to shell out.
But I have already been told by our council homeless prevention officer, that having spoken to our landlord she is “minded” to make a finding of intentional homelessness. She’ll be writing to me soon, with her explanation, and I will have the chance to challenge it.
And challenge it, I will. When I receive it, of course. When I rang her the other day to chase it up she told me that she hadn’t written the letter yet. She explained that her case-load was busy, and she was dealing with homeless people who were far more homeless than we were.
Given that we haven’t found anywhere to move yet, and given that our income support claim has ended now that The Mrs has started work - and she won’t be paid for a month - it’s reasonable to assume we’re a little worried that we won’t find anywhere in time. Money is tight, and housing is in shortage.
But there you go…
The reason our homeless prevention officer thinks it’s right to find us intentionally homeless is because the landlord told her that our relationship broke down as a result of me being verbally abusive and aggressive, and that she, and her two members of staff, are frightened of me.
And hell! I’m a big guy with a default-setting facial expression that is halfway between a frown and a grimace. But that doesn’t mean I’m aggressive, and it is a thoughtless cop-out to play the whole weak-and-defenceless-woman routine when it suits her. There was only one time when I did anything that could constitute abusive, and that was AFTER the landlord served the Eviction Notice.
And I’ve discussed this before, and I also discuss it in my book Generation Rent, which is an analysis of the unfairness of a landlord and tenant dispute.
We moved into our flat in November 2014. In December, the landlord wrote to us from the letting agents business she runs, right beneath our flat. They wanted to do an inspection, and said in the letter that they’d let themselves in if we weren’t at home. After challenging them over this, they accused me of shouting at them - which I did not do. They also said that they’d only deal with The Mrs, and I honoured that for nearly six months by having no contact with them.
There were two further reasons for her staff to enter our home. Two more inspections, which were done by THE SAME female member of staff - who we’re later meant to believe was frightened of me all along, remember.
I was polite and welcoming on each occasion. Never did this woman give the impression she was frightened of me. We always chatted and joked.
We were evicted part-way through negotiating the fair split of a gas bill…the landlord wanted us to pay £518 for a three month period. We would only agree to pay £200. They would not accept it, and in response to our refusal to discuss this with them face-to-face, they gave us our Eviction Notice. Up until that point, there was simply NO behaviour that could be called aggressive or abusive. If there had been, why the fuck did the landlord continue to send her staff into our home if they were all so damn scared of me?
But it was because they’d Evicted us over an unresolved dispute that made me angry enough to call them “cunts” when I happened to bump into them later that day.
They ended up getting The Mrs to go down and see them anyway, but The Mrs was savvy enough to secretly record the entire discussion, during which our landlord accused me of standing in the middle of the street, shouting and screaming abuse at them.
It is not what happened, and when, a few days later, the SAME member of staff had to come into our home to show prospective tenants around, I was as nice as pie. The fact that the agent was showing the tenants round on false pretences was something at that stage I kept to myself. They were behaving dishonestly, because they couldn't take money from prospective tenants knowing that we weren't required to vacate the flat on the expiry of the Eviction Notice. So when they had gone, I asked the agent for a chat and she agreed.
Like The Mrs, I secretly recorded it. And during that chat, I managed to record her agreeing with me that standing in the street and shouting abuse is not what happened that day. Because she was there, and ought to have damn well known.
What did happen, was that I simply walked past them without even making eye-contact and I muttered the word “cunts” to myself. And maybe I shouldn’t have done it, but the point is not whether I should have done it; the point is that the landlord was not only lying when she accused me of screaming at her in the middle of the street, and that I could prove she’d lied.
And not only that…She had lied to the council when she said that the reason for issuing notice was because I was aggressive and abusive - because nothing abusive was ever said until AFTER we got our notice, and we also have the landlord on tape acknowledging that.
So what really pisses me off about all this is not only that lies are being spread about my behaviour, but the same lies are being relied upon to justify the landlord giving us our Eviction Notice. And I’m also pretty damn angry that the one member of staff who knows that this is all lies, is happy to sit quietly whilst the lies are spewed up by the landlord to ensure that me, The Mrs and our three children are technically made homeless.
All the more infuriating is that the member of staff who knows it’s all lies has a young daughter herself, and I’d love to fucking know what she’d do if she was in our position.
And when I do finally get this goddamn letter from the council, I’m no doubt going to have to put some futile appeal together to try and prove that the landlord is lying, which in the long-run probably won’t work because the council just simply don’t want too many homeless people on their list.
It’s all an absolute load of shit.
Look out for my new book, Generation Rent, The Inequalities of the Private Letting System...