‘My rent arrears had built up because of Universal Credit problems. When I moved into my current property, I tried to change my address with Universal Credit, but they kept sending payments to my previous landlord, who kept the money.
‘Universal Credit saw it as I’d received the payment, so that was that. It took eight months to rectify their mistake – eight months with nothing but my wages, which aren’t huge, and still having to pay for childcare.
‘I was taken to court by my housing association for rent arrears. I suffer from anxiety, depression and seizures and so I was at a complete low at the point I went to court. I was at my wit’s end and didn’t know where to turn.
‘On my second time at court, the tenancy support team from my housing association said there would be solicitors at court, if I didn’t find someone to help me before that. That’s when I met Jeinsen from the Law Centre.
‘His help made such a big difference. I didn’t know the court process or understand what I could do. If I didn’t have his support, I would have been evicted.
‘When I sat with Jeinsen prior to entering court, he asked me a million questions. He asked me about my health, and he said he thought I was a person in need of support because of all my health issues.
‘The housing association had said that I hadn’t declared my health to them, but I had. So the judge decided that I had to provide a health assessment – why I have my seizures and suffer with my mental health. The health assessment was hard – talking about everything I’d been through – but I went into the Law Centre for it, somewhere I’d been before, so I wasn’t too stressed.
‘Then we had seven months of waiting – the waiting was probably the hardest. What I appreciated most about Jeinsen was that he was honest and open with me all the way through. He made me feel confident enough to keep going, and to not make an agreement with the housing association that I knew I couldn’t afford to keep.
‘The agreement that the housing association wanted would have been that the they would stop the court process as long as I paid rent and an amount for arrears – but if I missed a payment, they’d instantly send the bailiffs round to evict me.
‘I knew that because of all my health conditions, getting to work every single day in a month isn’t easy. Sometimes I have to miss work. I don’t get sick pay and although I can make up the hours instead, as a single mum I often can’t make up the time, so I end up losing money every month. So having an agreement where I had to pay extra out in arrears every month felt very unrealistic. It felt inevitable that [with that agreement] I was going to be evicted. That was the biggest thing: losing my child’s home.
‘On the day of the final court hearing, I was so nervous I was shaking. But Jeinsen arrived early to talk me through how court laid out, how proceedings would go, and we went through the paperwork again. He went out of his way to make sure I was able to stay calm on the day.
‘Afterwards the judge called the barristers in first and told them the housing association and I needed to make a settlement agreement, because the case Jeinsen had put forward was so strong. For me it wasn’t about the compensation, it was about the house. Once the settlement was agreed and Jeinsen filled out paperwork, I was free to go home.
‘I was so overwhelmed I burst into tears. I just felt such a huge relief. It was like the weight had just been lifted off my shoulders and I could get my life back on track. I’d put so much on hold because I was convinced I was going to lose my house. It felt amazing.
‘Before this, I had no idea whatsoever of my rights and the process I was supposed to go through. I don’t think enough people do know, and so they go into situations with no knowledge whatsoever. Some people end up homeless because they didn’t have the support I had. I know 100% I’m in my home because of the Law Centre’s support.‘