Tory Majority Day 82: Renting on Housing Benefit In London, The Flat Is Secured, A Welcomed Break Beforehand.

” I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you’d have never get better unless you moved on from your old flat, Lindy,” said CB, my friend who also has CFSME. 

“It’s OK to say that, I really do know how true that is,” came my reply.

She and I were sitting outside in the early October sunshine. We’d arranged to meet one Sunday afternoon in a pub equidistant between my silver surfer Dad’s house and her house. This was one of the first things I arranged to do when I moved into his place at the end of September.

She lives nearer my Dad than my old place, you see and when you have CFSME a shortening of any travelling distance between two points can be the tipping point that makes socializing possible, or at least it is with her and me.

Before I moved back in a Facebook chat with her, our usual means of socializing, I said “I want to see as much of you as possible,”living at Dad’s is made so much better by knowing that you are nearby.”

The last 20 days or so since I’ve lived here has been a sea change in my quality of life for the better. 

This friendship with CB is a vital part of my life and to have some quality time with her in person is brilliant.

When I move again, into the new flat, that will become difficult again as it’s simply too far for us both to travel, so this period of time is special indeed.

I’m seeing her again next week too. I’m sooo delighted I can spend this time with her :-).

Yes. The flat has finally been confirmed and I signed the paperwork today.

So did my guarantor, Mr S, and it was witnessed by my sister-in-law Mrs C. We were at a pub near the one CB and I met in, for a family meal (my father paid for me.)

Everyone in my family has been so supportive and encouraging. Even my father says that when I sent him the link on Zoopla to my future flat, he ‘just knew it was the one.’ I know I can’t let everyone down and I won’t. I have to make sure that this move works both financially and in terms of my happiness and health.

In the meanwhile Dad’s helping me by cooking me meals and driving me places and turning the heating on so I’m warm.

Having spent 2 years during winter in fuel poverty, absolutely dreading the turn of the weather because of the price of electrical heating and the cold and damp in the old flat, having the heating on is a luxury that feels like a few weeks in Barbados.

Honestly, I’m not exaggerating or kidding by saying that! Not having to mentally count every penny, knowing there’s food if I need it, all that has changed the quality of my life too but I’m not staying. It’s part of my well being to know I can be safe and independent in my own home too.

One day soon I’ll be able to sit back and reflect on the experience of living in low standard housing and this flat hunt but for now it’s too soon to be able to see it all clearly.

One thing I do know is that the experience has been so revealing of the problems with low cost housing in London that I’m not going to stop talking about it now. Sorry to any of you who’ve been turned off reading it because I’m a housing-bore!

This blog has become all about housing and so much less about being disabled and having ME but that is a sign of how all consuming and how damning the experience has been of the situation for people like me.

The front page of The Times today  had an article about how dodgy landlords are screwing the government out of thousands and thousands of pounds in housing benefit and how councils don’t prosecute, even when they should do.

I’m not the only one who has rented from my dodgy ex-landlord who has called in Environmental Health at my local Council to try to tackle disrepair. 

I found out 3 days before I moved, that someone who also rented a flat in the same property that I lived in had to call in Environmental Health because their flat was being drenched by water running through the roof and down the walls.

Environmental Health did NOTHING!

My dodgy landlord adopted the same tactic with those tenants, that he did with me. He did not repair the problem and threatened them with eviction too. 

In fact it seems that while I was going through my stuff with him, they were going through a similar thing too. It’s good to talk, isn’t it!

We are going to stay in touch as we have both moved out now and are both about to face the tussle around the return of our deposits.

It’s illegal for landlords not to protect a tenants deposit in a tenancy deposit scheme (TDS)

Despite my being a tenant for over 2 years with my landlord and repeatedly asking for a TDS certificate, he was unable to supply one. It was finally registered on the Friday prior to my house move. Tight timing there, landlord.

Now I know that this was illegal and I made every request (that wasn’t replied to) via email so I have a paper trail.

I read and hear that tenants can sue landlords for non-protection of deposit and now I’m feeling more distance from him, I’m feeling stronger about the idea of fighting back if and when it’s going to be necessary to happen. See you in court.

What about your credit check?

It came back without any problems. This is rather a surprise because I do check my credit file and it’s got problems. Still, I’m not knocking the process with Homelet.co.uk. They were the company used by the estate agents who found me the flat.

I still think it was completely the right thing to do to raise that there might be a credit check problem with the agents. If I hadn’t said anything, they would have regarded me as dishonest and I might have lost the flat as a result.

Now it’s all agreed I’ve also decided that I will progress with a Debt Relief Order once I’ve moved in. It’s all- change and when CB said that she didn’t think I could improve with CFSME whilst living in the old flat, I think I can’t move on if I’m dragging old debt around with me either.

I’m going to get rid of it. It’s going to be the first day of the rest of my future life etc, when I move in.

Show me the money 

My ex-landlord has money of mine – he has my original deposit, the last money I had that I paid out of my salary before I started to claim ESA.

On the day I checked out, I took hundreds of photos of the condition of the flat and his representative signed a document saying I should have the deposit returned. However he’s such a crook that I already know this won’t happen and yes, it hasn’t happened yet.

It’s not 30 days since I moved out yet and if it doesn’t come back, I’m heading to Citizens Advice with all my evidence and will get ready for small claims court. I imagine he won’t like this idea one bit, especially as the local press camp out there looking for human interest stories.

Applying for PIP 

Lack of mental energy being what it is, I haven’t had the mental space to think about applying for PIP but big thank you’s to people who offered advice. I will look into this properly next week.

How am I? 

Well yes. That’s the elephant in the room.

One of the things I’ve realised since I’ve moved here is that my CFSME is worse than I thought it was. Being around someone else all the time is exhausting and I need long, long periods of time alone doing very minimal things in order to feel like I’m on top of what is possible to do, to control my health.

In the first 10 days after I moved in, I was walking around like a zombie.

It is normal for me to remain separate from most people most of the time and living with someone else has thrown how bad my brain fog is, for instance, into sharp relief.

I find complicated conversations very difficult these days because the starter motor on complex thoughts is broken. My father has commented that he doesn’t get the same level of chat out of me that he used to. Ouch. No wonder the idea of having another sort of relationship is something I’ve decided I won’t be doing while I’m still this ill as well.

I am getting used to living with him though and even if we exchange simple conversations about the post arriving late or the neighbors making too much noise in the garden, it’s still connecting and it’s all I can really manage, to be honest. It’s just that this illness has left me unable to cope with much more conversation.

That’s why I haven’t written for a while, because the words are not there even though this post seems to be going on for ages! 🙂

So I need to remember this and hold my state of health in mind. The level of my illness has  been quite a shock at times. Things I hadn’t before seen because I was in a pattern which worked for me and I lived on my own is actually a sign that this illness has me in a tight grip by the short and curlies.

Look what time it is – 1:00 am. I did too much over that family lunch today and enemy adrenaline has kicked in. I can’t sleep, insomnia also being one of my CFSME symptoms and a sign I’ve over-extended myself. Tomorrow will all be about payback and post-exertional malaise but at least I can get a blog post finished. I’ve meant to write one for ages.

Saying all this, life is improving so universe, please listen and listen good.

The last thing I need now is a brown envelope from the DWP……..

© Lindy 2015

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