A family of four have been turned down for suitable accommodation due to Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s double standards policy. Currently, a tenant is living as a single mother with her two children, while her fiance continues to live alone.
The fiance lives in a one-bedroom ground floor flat, purpose built for disabled living. He can not move in to the family home due to the 18 steps to access the property. Other than this, there are complex needs because of his disabilities and the extra needs of the youngest child. The Council’s rules state that the property is no longer large enough and, because of the extra care needs, the family have been placed in a higher priority band.
The family had been considered for alternative accommodation but, upon inspection of their first floor flat, were told that the property could not be let in its current condition. The tenant detailed that there was condensation build-up in the kitchen and this would be rectified. The main issue, however, was with the garden. There is a small garden to the rear of the property. The tenant explained:
“I admit I have struggled to keep on top of the garden. Having to divide my time between two homes to accommodate the needs of all member of the family means that time and energy are very limited. It’s not really a problem that the Council expects the garden to be done. The problem is the fact that it is nowhere near as bad as when we moved in. There’s no damage to the property itself. I was told that, basically, it would cost the Council money. That’s all the housing officer seemed concerned about, that it would cost them money. I’ve gone into debt to buy a £35 strimmer because all I had was a pair of blunt shears.”
She continued: “It’s not that I have a problem doing the garden. I understand it’s my responsibility. The problem is the double standards. The state the garden was in when I moved here was appalling, yet they can’t let the property to someone else because of a few weeds.”
Before the family moved into the property, the garden was overgrown and full of rubbish. They were assured that this would be cleared before they moved in. Almost 18 months later, the rubbish was finally removed after the tenant pointing out to the Council that it could be hazardous and, while the tenant did not have the means to clear it, the Council did.
Despite having lived with an untidy and dangerous garden for the majority of their tenure, the Council decided to retract any offer of more suitable accommodation because they could not let the property with an untidy garden.
The tenant explained that things have been difficult for the family, and that a move would make life much easier.
“My youngest son starts secondary school in September. We’ve gone through so many meetings to sort out his extra needs. Ideally, we’d like to move nearer to the school but there aren’t many properties in that area. I’m struggling to find suitable work because of having to juggle his needs, but if we’re living as a family, I have more options. My partner can be at home. As it is, I’m trying to divide myself between so many things that I just can’t keep up. I asked for help with the garden because I couldn’t manage. I hadn’t deliberately allowed it to overgrow. I did what I could.”
So, a family with two disabled members are being denied suitable accommodation, and the chance to simply live as a family, because of the Council’s double standard policy.
This story is not unusual. Other families have been expected to improve a property before moving out, despite being offered another property in an unsuitable condition.
Statements from other residents include:
“I was in a wheelchair and been out of hospital just three hours when I moved into a property. I was told I’d have to clear the overgrown garden myself. I couldn’t even fit a wheelchair through the tiny gap between the wheelchair ramp and the garden hedge, never mind have the physical ability to do anything with it.”
Another former NBBC tenant claimed: “When we moved from one place to another, we had to completely redecorate the house we were leaving. Apart from being on such a tight budget that we could barely afford the materials, there was nothing wrong with its current decor. This wouldn’t have been too bad but then we moved to another place which not only needed decorating, but also had a huge hole through a wall.”
There have been an overwhelming number of similar stories including young families being left in properties full of damp; tenants asked to perfect their home before moving, yet being offered a place in varying states of disrepair.
As most residents agree, the tenant accepts responsibility for a property. Most do not have a problem with, for example, making minor repairs or decorating a room if it needs it. The problem seems to be with the obvious double standards and unrealistic expectations.