The Grandmother Living In Her Car After Being Made Homeless

20 April 2018, 13:56

A grandmother is now living out of her car after being made homeless when the service charges in her building more than trebled.

The 59-year-old bought her flat through shared ownership with housing association Genesis in north London 10 years ago.

But she started falling behind on rent and service payments. In 10 years, the rent has gone up by £130 a month - while her service charges - that's the money you pay towards building up-keep, cleaning and repairs - went up by 240%.

When she bought the home, she though that was all capped.She thought - when she part bought the home - all this was capped.

Last week, she was evicted. She told LBC she's now living in her car.

She said: "I'm in my car. Luckily an old friend saw about my plight on Facebook and offered me a room for a week.

"Everybody thought I would go to the council and get at least temporary accommodation. But the answer was no, no, no."

Despite this, the council say she is not "vulnerable" enough to qualify for housing.

Carolyn is now living in her car
Carolyn is now living in her car. Picture: LBC

The local council said: "Whilst we cannot comment on individual cases due to data protection concerns, we can confirm that Barnet Homes operates a Housing Allocations Scheme and in accordance with this and The Housing Act 1996, reasonable preference is given to people with high levels of assessed housing needs.

The Homelessness Reduction Act, which came into effect on 3 April 2018, strengthened the duties on Local Authorities to provide more meaningful advice and assistance to all eligible households. Therefore, we open a ‘relief’ duty and a specialist single homelessness officer will provide an individual with a Personalised Housing Plan. The Plan sets out tailored steps that the individual and the Local Authority must take to help relieve their homelessness. Please note: the Homelessness Reduction Act does not require for Local Authorities to secure accommodation or to provide temporary accommodation for non-priority customers, but instead to help them find their own accommodation.

"The individual is required to sign the Personalised Housing Plan in agreement of the steps."

A Notting Hill Genesis spokesperson said: "In line with the terms of her shared ownership agreement, the former resident was required to pay certain sums to what was Genesis Housing Association and to her bank.

"The former resident fell into significant arrears and despite many proactive attempts to assist her, including meetings with her at our offices and interventions by our tenancy support team, failed to stick to her payment plan. We attempted to contact her on numerous occasions offering to discuss various other options. We have also been in contact with the mortgage lender to assist with clearing the arrears on repayments.  Unfortunately, the resident has not agreed to explore these suggestions.

"Regrettably, due to the current extent of the arrears, eviction proceedings had to be commenced by her bank.

“Our leases make it clear that rents can rise and what levels those rents will increase by, and also that service charges are subject to variation based on the costs spent at the scheme in terms of repairs and maintenance. There was an additional cost of a concierge at this scheme which also has an affect on service charges. Service charges are underpinned by legislation ensuring that any charges are reasonable.

"We have been made aware of concerns about the carpet and have been monitoring our cleaning contractor to ensure our high standards are met."