Tory Majority Day 55: Renting On Housing Benefit London. House Move, Not Going Ahead.

I should have known. Last week I was on the phone to my current (dodgy) landlord. It was the first time he’d been in touch with me directly since the decision was made to press the big red button and ask them to re-house me.

While we were talking I had a sense of there being two conversations going on.

The one I wanted to have, about the exact date I would be moving, how much money they’d charge me, whether he could confirm all the furniture would be removed prior to the day of the move, whether the repairs would be completed, whether it was locked down and certain, and his.

His conversation seemed to be about how he was rushing to get a number of flats completed because there were a number of current tenants who wanted to move, that I was ‘in a chain,’ that there was someone who would move into my flat after I moved, that it was an economic toss-up about whether repairs or replacement would be carried out in his properties and that he could easily rent the flats as demand was very high he could usually turn around an empty flat in about 3 days.

This was last Thursday, he then said that he couldn’t confirm the exact date of the move until after a ‘site visit’ on Tuesday – yesterday.

All of this was on speaker mic in his car, so it was difficult to hear and vague. I kept having to say: “I can’t hear you clearly.” How true!

Yesterday I had a document emailed to me. It was a financial statement from my current and previous flats, including amount of deposit etc. It was accompanied by a text from the landlord saying that all moneys needed to be paid up front before the contracts could be signed and keys released.

“Let me know tomorrow if you still want to move,” was added to the bottom of the text.

“Huh,” I thought.”I’ve said one hundred times that I want to move. Why does he keep sliding around it?” In an initial email back I said, “yes, I still want to move but I need time to work through the financials.”

Attached to the email there was a statement about the move. It was on an Excel spreadsheet.

At the top – and I had to read this about 10 times for it to be clear – there was a row which said: “Move date. Confirmed. 2nd August.” That’s this Sunday.

First time I’d heard that confirmed too. Sunday, eh. That’s 5 days to organise a house move, find people to help and hire a removals firm. Hmmm.

Then – and again I had to read this 10 times and get my sister HS to read it too – it set out a list of costs associated with this move.

Which amounted to £1,151.00.First time I’d heard that too.

I threw up. Literally. Seriously I’m not joking. This was the first time they’d mentioned how much money they’d expect from me. I’m on ESA, I don’t have it. They did suggest a ‘repayment plan’ but that’s not going to help the fact that this move is going to cost me as much as a move would cost if I was starting again, somewhere new, with a new landlord and letting agency.

I wrote an email to them saying: “can you clarify these figures please, I don’t understand them.” No reply.

My landlord’s vague words, “we treat all tenant transfers like new tenants now..” floated back to me.

Sh*t, the realisation hit that they are treating me exactly as if I am new. The only thing they didn’t have to do was a credit check because they already knew me.

This is NOT what happened in the move between dodgy flat 1 and dodgy flat 2.

For that move, they simply transferred me and I started paying more rent. That was it.

There started a conversation with my sister about this move. She, lucky her, is quite wealthy. She immediately offered to lend me the money in order for the move to go ahead. Oh my god, thanks sis! However it’s a  lot of money and HER repayment plan was going to leave me with very little cash out of my ESA as well.

We had maybe, oh, 1/2 an hour when we went to and fro about that and then I read the next page. The next page was a document I’d also not seen before. It was a document about my financial situation in order to re-register the deposit for the new address.

It asked for my work address, work phone number, work email address and employers name too.

I swore very, very loudly. I called my sister again. We went through every option we could think of, including her saying that I worked for her and also fessing up and telling them the truth about my benefits situation.

None of it was possible. If they knew I was on benefits, they could ask for 6 months rent up front and she doesn’t have that kind of money available. Also. I don’t want them to know my current situation. I’m dead against it.

Some of you might not understand why, but it’s my boundary. I don’t want them to know, full stop. However I don’t mind another landlord knowing.

So. I made a decision. I am not going ahead with the move.

I emailed them at about mid-day and phoned my landlord sometime later. It went straight to voicemail. As of 5:30 yesterday evening I’d not heard anything back from them about it at all.

Where does that leave me? It leaves me in my current flat for the time being. It leaves me surrounded by packed boxes. It leaves me in an unclear situation with my landlord as well, as he knows repairs need to be carried out and he originally suggested that ‘he had the flat back to sort out the problems.’

I am still under contract in my current place, I did not get to contract stage with the new place and I think this leaves me legally in a situation where I am still housed, for the moment at least.

Something good came out of yesterday. My sister has agreed to lend me money to move and her husband has agreed to be my guarantor.

This rounds off the triangle that’s needed to move somewhere new and different – an entirely new place, away from my current landlord completely. It means I can start looking for somewhere locally who WILL take tenants on Housing Benefit if they have a guarantor.

Life throws things at you like this sometimes in order for it to shake you down and see what falls out. 

What’s fallen out of yesterday is that a door has literally opened, thanks to the help of my family, and that door is to provide what I need in order to move away from my nightmare landlord completely.

Self care and sleep 

Last night I took a sleeping pill and turned off all my electronics. I slept through which is absolutely essential to weigh the odds about staying well and today I’m spending the day with my silver surfer father.

Self care is an essential, crucial part of dealing with CFSME, saying no is too. Even if it’s drawing a line for yourself that is invisible to others. Last night taking a sleeping pill and avoiding checking all email and text comms was mine.

The level of stress and anxiety that my landlord provokes in me is for a reason. I think it is telling me that I have to get away from them totally and that they are a bad lot.

I’ve never felt this about anyone else or any other situation in my life before, its such a strong reaction I think my instinct must be saying something so important that I’ve been straining to hear too.

Life, health, healthfulness and well being is as vital as having somewhere nice to live. If I have one, but not the other, I cannot stay well or improve. Staying renting from this lot will never give me both.

With my families help, I’m off to find somewhere that will.

© Lindy 2015

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