Shelter: single mothers, bullying and how to delay evictionMake Text Bigger
Polly Neate, CEO of Shelter, was on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Wednesday. The subject was homeless single mothers. These people are of great importance to Shelter because it hopes to use them to get a court ruling that discrimination against claimants of housing benefit is unlawful, based on the following argument: a ban on HB claimants (both male and female) is indirect sex discrimination against women because there are more of them. I know, you couldn’t make it up!
Shelter helped to sue a single-branch agency for indirect sex discrimination, but settled out of court. This shows they had little confidence in the strength of its case, but it managed to bully the agency into paying an HB claimant £2,000 in compensation for some unexplained and hard to imagine loss or suffering. You can see how weak the case was click here.
As part of a press release in August on its mystery shopper exercise, Shelter stated that “No DSS policies could amount to indirect discrimination because women, especially single mothers, and people with disabilities, are more likely to rely on housing benefit to top up their rent.”
In the press release, Polly Neate wrote “Rejecting all housing benefit tenants is morally bankrupt” click here.
The same day Shelter’s well-fed Director of Communications, Policy & Campaigns, Greg Beales, said on TV “Our intent over the next few months is to bring a series of test cases to ask the courts to look at this closely ……to ask them to say it’s unlawful.” click here
Polly’s explanation on Wednesday’s programme for why there are so many homeless single mothers was that they tended to be poor, and that we are not building enough social housing.
Some people may think that the very existence of many single mothers is due to the fact that councils must provide accommodation for them. Pregnancy used to be the key to getting a council flat. The reason why so many of them are now in temporary accommodation (which means that they are officially described as homeless) is because there isn’t enough social housing for them.
Two single mothers appeared on the programme, about 38.5 minutes in: click here
One, a young woman with a child on her knee, complained about her temporary accommodation. She said she had left college this year to start university.
The BBC website said the mother is 21-year-old student teacher and her daughter is two: click here
Nobody asked why she thought it a good idea as a student to get pregnant and have a child without support from the father. Of course not, in these modern times no-one is expected to take responsibility. Society will look after them. The State will provide.
The other single mother was middle-aged, and had lived in a house for 13 years. She described how her landlord gave her a Section 21 notice in November 2016 because he wanted to sell. (She didn’t say whether it was because of Section 24). She said she followed the council’s instruction to ignore the notice – and the court order – and wait for the bailiffs, and was then left with the bailiffs‘ bill and the court’s bill.
On its website Shelter gives the same advice that her council did: ”Only court bailiffs can evict you from your home.” it says. click here
That page provides a video of the story of Lyndsay, a benefits claimant. She had lived in a house with her two children for four years, and her landlady had informed her a few months before the S 21 that she intended to sell, and confirmed it two weeks before issuing the notice. (She didn’t say whether it was because of Section 24.)
A housing officer at the council spotted a problem with her section 21 notice, making it invalid. “Lyndsay’s landlord had to send a second section 21 notice, which gave her another two months in her home.”
Lyndsay stayed past the expiry date on the second section 21 notice, meaning her landlady had to start court action. The court sent her a possession order four months later.
She was given six weeks to leave her home – an extension of the usual two weeks that’s sometimes given. However, she was ordered to pay £400 in court costs, because there was no legal reason to stop her eviction.”
There was “no legal reason to stop her eviction”, but the owner’s desire to dispose of the property was frustrated for seven and a half months.
Shelter’s web page states “The court can decide to:
- dismiss the case if the section 21 notice isn’t valid
- order you to leave if the notice is valid”
So anyone who has checked with Shelter that the section 21 notice is valid is just wasting the time of the court and the landlord by not leaving when the notice expires, because the result is a foregone conclusion. Worse still, ignoring the possession order from the court wastes more of the landlord’s time and money. If the tenant does not pay rent during this period of limbo, the landlord is at risk of having the property re-possessed by the lender.
That is really what is morally bankrupt, Polly, to use your words. So is your campaign to harass the agency Ludlow Thompson by inciting your supporters to make nuisance calls.
“Thousands of Shelter supports have contacted Ludlow Thompson’s head office to demand that it stamps out discrimination against renters on housing benefit.
“Ludlow hasn’t responded to a single message. Now we’re ramping up the pressure.
“We need you to call Ludlow Thompson directly and help us force the issue.
“If enough of us ring and flood the phone lines, Ludlow Thompson won’t be able to ignore us.” click here
Click here to down load Property Industry Eye pdf of the Shelter instructions.
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