Eastbourne family evicted from home in ‘mortgage dispute’

A family has been evicted from their rented home after what they describe as a mortgage dispute between their landlord and Halifax bank, writes Henry Sandercock.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 6:02 pm
Whitbread Close, Eastbourne, image from Google
Whitbread Close, Eastbourne, image from Google

Emma Woollard, 42, and her husband and two sons have been made homeless because the landlord of the Whitbread Close house allegedly did not have permission to sub-let it under the terms of his mortgage.

The family first found out about an issue with their letting when they received a letter from lawyers acting on behalf of the Halifax in January. They endured months of uncertainty before leaving the property on Monday (May 20).

Mrs Woollard said, “We paid rent upfront because the landlord said it gave him more security. Two days after paying our last batch of rent in January, we heard from law firm Eversheds on behalf of the Halifax saying they were seeking to take possession of the property.

“We have also since found out the landlord has not registered our deposit under a protection scheme. We stand to lose £1,500. When we moved in, I poured my heart out to the landlord and he told me to make this house my home. Now we’re having to move again not even a year later.”

A Halifax spokesperson said the bank could not comment due to ongoing legal proceedings. The landlord was unavailable for comment.

Mrs Woollard says she has been signed off sick from her job because of the stress and anxiety the situation has caused her. Her son has had to have heart surgery and her husband is also preparing for an operation.

The family has been placed in temporary housing by Eastbourne council and a spokesperson said, “We found temporary accommodation for the whole family. We have always made clear that temporary accommodation may not be the most suitable, particularly for their son.

“However, urgent placements like this do not often include properties with space and facilities you’d expect in a permanent family home. We’ll continue to work with the family to help resolve their long-term housing needs.”

Giving advice on what tenants can do in this type of situation, Chris Norris at the National Landlord’s Association said, “If the landlord does not have a buy-to-let mortgage and does not have permission to let, the lender can apply directly to the court for an eviction. The tenant can apply for a postponement of up to two months, providing they had a tenancy and pay rent.

“In this case, as the tenant has paid the rent upfront and assuming there is a tenancy in place, it may be possible to sue the landlord for breach of contract. Just in the same way a tenant has an obligation to pay rent, a landlord has an obligation to provide the agreed accommodation.”