Every year our advice services in Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings prevent hundreds of families and individuals from becoming homeless. The impact of this is huge: fewer people on the streets, less demands on local council homelessness services, and less children having to move away from their schools and their friends. It is important to remember that many people become homeless through no fault of their own, as was the case with Mike.
Mike moved into a Housing Association flat in 1980. A few months later he was offered a job as a caretaker at a nearby social club – a job he did for 36 years until he was made redundant. In 1996 he had moved to another flat owned by the housing association, but unbeknown to him, his employers had taken a sub-lease on the flat. In law, his employer had become his landlord. The social club went into liquidation.
Not only did he lose his job, but he wasn’t given any redundancy pay and he was told to leave his home of 20 years.
Mike’s wife had recently died but the Council could not help. Eviction proceedings followed. He received advice from a private solicitor who said that he had no case. At the first hearing the judge said she also thought he had no case. However, he sought advice from a BHT Solicitor under the Court Duty Scheme. (BHT has solicitors and advisers in various County Courts around East Sussex and in Brighton where we are able to offer immediate advice and representation).
BHT advised him that he did have a case and persuaded the judge to give him time to get Legal Aid and for BHT to submit a formal defence. The BHT solicitors spotted that he had rights because of the type of tenancy he had. His landlords argued that, as his home went with the job, he had no rights.
BHT was able to show that Mike’s home existed independently of his job. Realising they were not going to win, the landlords agreed to settle. By this time, the housing association has also become involved in the case. They offered Mike a new home which was close by but much more suitable for his needs as he approached retirement.