2010 was a hard year for me. 2011 was a chance for things to be better, a fresh start in a new year. Unfortunately, 2011 was doomed from the start. My husband lost his job early on, I was already not working due to valid personal reasons. We missed a months rent, but within two weeks it was sorted and paid in full. Within that time, and after I’d already explained and made a significant partial payment, my landlord had been at the door screaming about eviction in front of my kids. Please keep in mind that by that point we had lived here two years and had never missed a single rent payment. The next month, it was clear we would not be able to pay in full, we prepared for eviction, but our housing benefit came through and while it wouldn’t pay the full amount each month,it would pay most of it, the shortfall being less than £200. The one month back rent was paid, with even the difference paid by us. Technically we were not behind anymore. Yet, our landlord came to us, verbally abused us, called me stupid, and threw an eviction notice in my face and screamed at us about the “condition of the house” (normal ware and tear to the carpets and the crappy to begin with kitchen cupboards, which I have complained about three times). The benefits coming in do not cover even our normal expenses, and we certainly can’t pay the excess rent each month, so I understand his right to evict us.
What infuriates me is his complete unwillingness to work with us for even a few months while I find a job and D gets some training to qualify him for something new. His unwillingness to admit that we are not the months behind with our rent that he has claimed we are to the council and that we can prove it. His abusive and horrible attitude, his coldheartedness. We have three young children, we have lived here without incident for over two years, we are trying to get back on our feet. He is getting his money, every month. Yet, almost every week he turns up and insults and treats us like trash, demands to know when he will get his money (I only assume he means the difference between monthly rent and our benefit) and when we will get out of the house. Threatens to have his guys force the door and get in (to do what? I’m terrified to ask). I point out that any excess rent due once we have vacated he may take out of our £1250 deposit. He has more or less admitted he did not, as the law demands, protect out deposit when we moved in.
We do not have £2000 sitting around for a new deposit so we’ve had to go begging to the council for emergency housing. They insist we stay here until after the date on our notice, until a court order has been gotten by the landlord and bailiffs are standing on our doorstep, only then will the council step in and get us into a new place.
It is hard to write this, to make it public knowledge. I feel ashamed. Like we are awful people who refuse to pay our rent. We aren’t, we’ve paid our rent on time in this house for over two years, and continue to do so. We paid our rent on time in every house we’ve lived in over the last six years. We’ve worked so hard for the last six years to cope with exorbitant rent, utility, transportation food and clothing costs. We buy the cheapest food, the cheapest clothing. I am studying for a degree, taking as many courses as my university will allow each year to finish as soon as possible. (I should point out that it is only this year I have qualified for financial aid, I have paid for all my courses since 2008 out of pocket) My husband is taking courses, 4 different ones, all in different areas, trying to gain qualifications to get a new job.
So, even though I am ashamed, I am also angry. What’s so wrong with taking a slightly smaller amount of rent for six months, or even a year? What’s so wrong with trying to work with good tenants who are struggling but trying to get back on their feet? What gives a landlord the right to be abusive and cruel? Is it greed? Our landlords actions the last few months have shocked us. Previously we would have said he was a good landlord, if not a bit annoying in his tendency to ignore minor (to him) problems. He has shown his true colours with this, lying to the council about our rent payments and the amount of our rent, lying to us, even accusing us of doing damage to the property which he knows is specified in the inspection as pre-existing to our tenancy. To demand we pay money we categorically do not owe, especially when we paid a large deposit which should cover all rent owing on our departure. What gave him the right to spend that money instead of protecting it as he is required to by law?
I feel broken down by this. I am afraid, first and foremost that the council will not come through for us and we will end up living in our car, if it’s not repossessed first! (Though I am being reassured this will not happen) I am afraid the landlord will force his way in and have our things removed before our notice is up, while we sit and wait for the council to help us. He comes here and only wants to deal with my husband, who is soft spoken and will agree to things he shouldn’t just so the landlord won’t scream and swear at him. I have to be the strong one and I don’t feel strong. I have to stand up and say no to this man who is bigger than me and nasty and cruel to me. I have to tell him to go, and point out that he is lying and that he has not done what he is required to by law. I have to instruct my oldest son that he is not to open the door to the landlord if we are not in.
We asked my inlaws if we could move in with them just while we tried to get back on our feet and they refused. Which is their right of course, but when they have three extra bedrooms and we have offered to pay rent and a share of the utilties and buy and prepare our own food and try to be as little nuisciance as possible, I can’t help but feel aggrieved by this.
I try to hide all of this, I don’t want people to know all our problems, or, worse think badly of us, but my blog is the place where I share my feelings and I can’t keep quite about this anymore. We are being forced out, over a measly £150 a month. Never once did he ask why, or how can I help, or how long do you think it will take to get back on your feet? From day one it was lies and insults and “GET OUT.”
Is that right?