‘My partner passed away in 2020. I was distraught and I didn’t know what to do because I’d been living with him for so long. We were partners and I really didn’t know where to turn.
‘I called the housing association landlord to report his passing and to seek assistance and ask them what I needed to do because I believed I was entitled to succeed to the tenancy. I’d previously seen the tenancy agreement and it was clear that qualifying partners had a right of succession. But the landlord told me I had no right to the house. I contacted various people for help but I wasn’t getting anywhere. And then someone suggested the Law Centre so I got in touch and spoke to Paul, one of the solicitors, who agreed to take on my case. I was actually sobbing on the phone and he was just so compassionate and kind to me, told me not to worry and made an appointment to see me.
‘The housing officer at the housing association was really unhelpful; she was actually quite rude to me and not at all empathetic to my situation: my daughter and I were about to lose our home at what was a very difficult time. As soon as we found out how, I started paying the rent direct to the landlord with a bit extra each month to cover the short time we’d missed, and then they sent me a letter saying I was squatting. They then offered me alternative accommodation, which I accepted, but they withdrew it at the last minute saying the offer was an error.
‘They refused to send information to Paul, who by this time had taken on my case, and even ignored requests from my MP. Paul advised to wait until they issued proceedings for unlawful occupation and he would then assist me with preparing my defence. The whole legal process was very nerve-wracking and time consuming but Paul said I had a very good chance because I had the necessary documentation to support my case. Having legal aid was very reassuring because it meant I had Paul and his team on my side. There was no way I would have been able to afford a private lawyer. Without legal aid I would have been totally devastated. I would have just given up.
‘At the trial, the judge said I would get the tenancy. I just felt elated. I knew I was right. At one stage I’d felt like giving up on the whole thing because of the stress and anxiety it caused, but then I knew in my heart that what I was doing was right. Paul and the barrister Rea who represented me in court were so supportive and compassionate and that meant a lot because it had been a very stressful situation – I work with vulnerable people and I’d constantly been thinking I may be homeless for no good reason.
‘Without Paul’s help I think I would have lost the tenancy. Paul knew the process so well, that if it was anybody else, I don’t think they would have fought as hard and possibly done so much work for me. I fully trusted him throughout the whole process and I really believe that we would have lost this tenancy for no good reason if it wasn’t for the Law Centre.
‘It’s been quite a journey, and a long one, but it’s ended very well and I will be forever thankful to the Law Centre for that.’
Judy* works as a carer and was living with her partner and adult daughter. When her partner died, she contacted the Housing Association to have the tenancy changed to her name. They replied saying she had no right to succeed and should vacate the property. Our housing solicitor took on her case under legal aid and began legal proceedings against the Housing Association, providing evidence and witnesses to prove the relationship and therefore the right to succession. Judy won her case and has taken over the tenancy meaning she and her daughter can stay in their home.
*name has been changed