My apologies in advance for spelling and grammar but this is written in genuine anger and after 30 years of “Seen it, got the T-shirt” I am seriously upset about what is about to happen to an 88 year old man on the morning of Friday the 16th October 2020 at 11am, probably while many of you are reading this article and which is testament to a system gone mad and the collapse of legal aid and social justice.
Meet Mr C:
His parents married just after the first world war and moved into privately rented accommodation in the East End of London in the early 1920s, nearly 100 years ago.
Mr C was born there in 1932, along with his three sisters who grew up there. Mr C has never lived anywhere else.
His dad died in 1969 and his mum succeeded to a protected tenancy before dying herself in late 1989, meaning Mr C succeeded to an assured tenancy at a market rent.
His latest landlord kicked off proceedings a few years back, by asking Mr C to move out temporarily whilst he did some renovation work. Mr C complied but when he moved back in, the renovation work turned out to be the landlord converting the property into 2 flats, without Mr C’s knowledge or approval.
The council got involved, identified a conversion without planning permission, which probably also constitutes an illegal eviction from part of the property (We’re working on that bit, trust me)
The landlord, pissed off at lost income then served a notice on Mr C, raising the rent from £500 a month to £1,600 at a market level.
He has been fighting this in the court since February. I don’t have space to cover the legal arguments, this is a moral rant.
Because Mr C defended himself, the landlord has employed a serious, kick-ass lawyer who will be representing the landlord in court at 11am to get the court to ratify the rent increase, which will plunge Mr C instantly into 11 month’s worth of rent arrears, @ around £12,000 and cause the loss of his home further down the line as well as plunge him into huge debt.
Mr C, for various reasons, although a pensioner, is a gnats beyond legal aid eligibility, so he cant afford the qualified representation he needs to defend himself against the landlord’s expensive pit bulls.
Safer Renting are his only hope right now and we aren’t lawyers. We stuck in a last minute skeleton defence submission and approached the landlord’s lawyers and asked to be able to address the court on Mr C’s behalf, they objected.
We emailed the court today and asked again, we were refused permission.
And it gets worse.
As is the case with cases in Covid times, the hearing is to be held on the phone but Mr C doesn’t have any information about the phone contact details. We emailed the pit bull lawyer asking for same and he ignored us, presuming a quick, undefended win.
So we emailed the court and asked them and they replied with this:-
“Mr C should email his telephone number to the Court if he wishes to attend the telephone hearing as per the instructions in the Notice of Hearing sent to him”.
………….He is 88. He doesn’t have a computer and obviously doesn’t have an email.
Something we mentioned to the court but got no response to. Procedures are procedures after all.
They wont give us the phone contacts for the hearing because we aren’t allowed to address the court and the landlord’s lawyer is ignoring us.
So unless something changes between late Thursday night as I write this, and tomorrow morning, the hearing will go ahead without Mr C being able to mount a defence.
His expensive lawyers will railroad through the hearing and get the landlord the money he wants and set up a possession case that will plunge Mr C into debt and facing homelessness, while he sits in the kitchen where I sat with him yesterday, not knowing how his future is going to pan out.
The only light at the end of the tunnel is that this hearing will simply decide on whether the rent increase is valid and the arrears as claimed by the landlord, actually due.
He will have to employ his expensive lawyers to then seek a possession on the grounds of rent arrears in which case he will face a counterclaim for illegal eviction and concomitant damages.
Of course Mr C still wouldn’t be eligible for legal aid but anyone fancy a whip round??????