As an organisation, one of our core missions is homelessness prevention. One way we do this work is through our Housing Advice and Legal Services.
One of our clients, Diane reached out to us after rent arrears had built up over many years, and she was facing homelessness. This is her story.
Diane had been a sole tenant of a Housing Association property for twenty-eight years. She was renting a three-bedroom flat and had brought up three sons in the property.
Diane initially lived at the property with her partner, but they had separated for a period of time and the rent arrears had built up.
There had been at least two suspended possession orders made by the County Court in the past when Diane’s partner was working and had offered to pay £200 per month off the rent arrears. The rent arrears were £11,400 as her partner had not been able to work after the Covid lockdown.
As Diane’s partner was self-employed, there were difficulties with their income and Universal Credit claim. As such, Diane’s son offered to pay a lump sum off the arrears of approximately £2,000 if required.
Diane’s weekly rent was £118.67, and Diane had been told that the landlord was applying for a warrant because they were unable to reduce the arrears by £7,500 – this would have stopped the bailiff’s warrant being applied for.
Due to the difficulty Diane had in reducing her arrears, she sought advice from one of BHT Sussex’s Advice Centres. Our adviser assisted Diane to apply to suspend the warrant and represented her in court.
The adviser put the case to the District Judge that Diane needed a further opportunity to resolve this rent arrears and made an offer to pay the full rent plus £125 per month off the arrears. The District Judge suspended the warrant on this basis, and a review of the case was set for a future date.
Diane has kept up with the offer to pay £125 per month off the arrears with the financial help of one of her sons.
As a result of the advice Diane received from BHT Sussex, Diane’s homelessness was prevented.