“No justification” for evicting a family “in the middle of an extreme heatwave”, campaigners say. Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter, writes
A family evicted by their Walthamstow landlord, rehoused in Bromley and then told to move 150 miles away are facing homelessness once more.
Monica, Luis and their three children were first told to leave their temporary accommodation in Bromley by Waltham Forest Council on 29th June, after missing an appointment to view a privately-rented home in Stoke-on-Trent.
The council argued it had discharged its responsibility to the family by offering them the home in Stoke-on-Trent, even though Luis had recently been offered a new job in London.
After a social media campaign organised by Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth (HASL), the council decided to let the family stay longer in their Bromley home.
However – despite the family’s new-found lawyer requesting a review of the council’s decision to move them, due in five weeks’ time – they were told on 19th July that they must leave on 21st July.
Liz Wyatt, from HASL, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service there is “no justification” for evicting a family “in the middle of an extreme heatwave and soaring Covid-19 cases”.
She said: “We are deeply concerned and horrified by Waltham Forest Council’s treatment of this vulnerable family and their decision to pursue this harmful eviction.
“This family has faced injustice after injustice. [They] already suffered a section 21 no-fault eviction, facing homelessness again is traumatising.
“The family have lawyers and are reviewing the council’s decision to force them to Stoke, but the council wants them evicted before the review decision is made.
“Why won’t Waltham Forest Council simply do the right thing and leave this family in their temporary accommodation where they are settled?
“No council, especially a Labour council, should be treating their most vulnerable residents like this.”
Monica, who has a ten-year-old son and three-year-old twins, said she and her family had lived in Waltham Forest for seven years until her husband was “left without work” due to the pandemic and they were evicted by their private landlord.
She said: “Waltham Forest took advantage of this and decided to send us out of London without taking our opinion into account.
“Every person should have the right to decent housing and in the place where they are applying, not where the borough decides to give housing.
“The borough should be helping and supporting their citizens, not treating them like this.”
The council’s cabinet member for housing homelessness prevention, Louise Mitchell, said she couldn’t comment in detail on individual cases but that the council “works hard” to provide housing for residents who need help.
She said: “Our preference is to house every household locally. However, demand for housing in London far outstrips supply and we regret that it is not always possible to place people in the borough.
“Alongside our duty to offer accommodation to those in need, we also have a duty to make sure council taxpayers’ money is being used in a sustainable and reasonable way and that we can continue to provide the essential day-to-day services on which all our residents rely.
“We must follow the government’s benefits cap policy when we make any offer of accommodation and we must consider the financial circumstances of each household to ensure the offer is affordable and sustainable for them.
“The freeze on the rent we can pay under the Local Housing Allowance makes it very challenging to find affordable accommodation in London.”